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Mighty River Power/ Mercury to focus on efficiency improvements

Exterior of 100MW geothermal power plant of Mighty River Power at Kawerau, New Zealand (source: Wikimedia/ creative commons)
Alexander Richter 4 Aug 2016

New Zealand-based utility Mighty River Power, now rebranding to Mercury, announces record geothermal production, and focusing on efficiency improvements over the planning of new plants.

New Zealand geothermal power house Mighty River Power, recently started a rebranding campaign now being called Mercury. With this move the utility took over the name of its retail arm and ditched the old name, which was described – so local news – as having “insufficient marketing zing”.

In the recent operational update, the company reported the highest annual geothermal production in the history of the company.

For the financial year of 2016, ending in the end of June this year, geothermal generation was up 2% on the previous year, with now 2,830 GWh produced in the year with an availability of 95.5%. This is largely due to the impact of the turbine replacement at Nga Awa Purua geothermal power station.

With a stagnating electricity demand in New Zealand, the company is not planning on the construction of any new power stations in the coming years. It will instead focus on increasing the output from its existing power stations, geothermal and hydro.

One example mentioned by Chief Executive, Fraser Whineray, he describes the Kawerau plant built as a 90 MW plant could easily work at a full capacity of up to 104 MW, an increase of more than 10%. With other station efficiency improvements, this could mean higher electricity generation without having to build new plants.

The utility also faces the uncertainty of one of the key customers of its electricity, the aluminium smelter in Southland. As in Iceland, aluminium smelters are always looking at the cheapest electricity, particularly under the current low market prices for aluminium.

Source: Radio NZ