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Contact Energy sees potential for further geothermal development in NZ

Wairakei geothermal facilities, Taupo/ New Zealand (source: Contact Energy)
Alexander Richter 6 Nov 2018

New Zealand power company, Contact Energy has shared thoughts on possible future geothermal development options, depending on how electricity demand in the country develops.

In recent news on operational results of New Zealand energy company Contact Energy, the company reports higher operating earnings for the past four months compared to last year, as reported by ShareChat in New Zealand.

Having simplified its business improving retail and generation margins, the company has produced about 8% more electricity than in the year before.

The company also announced that it will keep on working to lower costs of its geothermal operations. With the combined ability of wind and hydro-power stations to produce baseload power, geothermal needs to remain competitive.

There are several geothermal options available for Contact Energy at Wairakei and the Tauhara geothermal field nearby. Both could be options for further development should demand for electricity increase in the market, so the company.

The resource consent (license to utilise the resource) for the original Wairakei geothermal plant will expire in 2026. Celebrating 60 years of power generation at the field, the resources continue to be very good and beyond the current steam requirement for the geothermal plants of Te Mihi and Pihipi. This essentially provides a good case for further operation of the field going into the future.

Contact Energy has the possibility to build a third unit at the Te Mihi geothermal plant, but could also re-power Wairakei. Another option would be building a new plant, which could be a less costly option.

Depending on how electricity demand in New Zealand develops, Contact Energy has several options. It has a consent for the development of up to 250 MW geothermal power generation capacity at the Tauhara geothermal field, which it sees as “pre-eminent” renewable energy option. The field could see staged development. Another option would be brownfield develop at the existing Te Huka plant.

Source: Sharechat