Geothermal key to keep renewable share in energy generation in New Zealand

Wairakei geothermal facilities, Taupo/ New Zealand (source: Contact Energy)
Alexander Richter 21 Dec 2017

Despite a dry winter and a drop in hydropower generation, New Zealand has been able to maintain its high share of renewables in overall electricity generation mainly due to geothermal power generation.

A release by New Zealand’s Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employement highlights the great role of geothermal energy in the context of renewable energy generation in the country.

A dry winter covering the September 2017 quarter led to a lower proportion of renewable electricity generation and higher levels of gas-fired generation compared to the same the quarter last year, according to the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment released today.

The latest New Zealand Energy Quarterly covers the period July – September 2017 and provides quarterly data and analysis on energy supply, demand, prices and associated greenhouse gas emissions.

“The dry winter meant hydro generation fell by 8% compared to the previous September quarter, with the lowest level of South Island hydro generation in July for more than a decade.

“However, the level of renewable generation for the quarter (81%), was higher than September quarters in previous dry winters (2001, 2003, and 2008), mainly because of a higher contribution of geothermal generation,” says James Hogan, MBIE Manager Energy and Building Trends.

To maintain supply, gas-fired electricity generation increased 28 per cent, peaking in July, yet overall gas use was steady due to lower gas use at the Methanex plant, while coal generation increased 76 per cent for the quarter.

The September quarter coincided with the Refinery to Auckland Pipeline disruption in mid-September which halted the flow of fuel between Marsden Point and Wiri for 10 days. During the month the supply of jet fuel to Auckland airport was 29 per cent down on an average month in 2017. However, national fuel supply levels remained largely unchanged from the previous quarter, consistent with the RAP disruption being a regional distribution issue rather than a national supply issue.

Source: NZ Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment