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NZ Geothermal Week highlights New Zealand’s thriving geothermal industry

NZ Geothermal Week highlights New Zealand’s thriving geothermal industry Te Pae o Waimihia Chairman Ngahere Wall welcoming guests to He Ahi, the Trust’s new eco-industrial park (source: NZ Geothermal Week)
Carlo Cariaga 22 Aug 2022

The recently concluded New Zealand Geothermal Week highlighted the country's world-class geothermal industry with special focus on new developments.

Strong economic growth isn’t automatically compatible with sustainability, and businesses and industries must think broadly about the environment and communities they operate in to be viable long-term. That was a key message driven home during NZ Geothermal Week last month, which put the spotlight on New Zealand’s world-class geothermal industry and its work to support a sustainable energy future in New Zealand.

Presenters shared their organisations’ views on sustainability and the “quadruple bottom line”, where geothermal energy achieves economic, environmental, cultural, and social goals.

NZ Geothermal Association chief executive Kennie Tsui says there is a strong commitment across the geothermal industry to make sure its presence benefits local communities, iwi, other businesses, and the environment.

NZ Geothermal Week was hosted in Taupo, the hub of New Zealand’s geothermal industry where 95% of New Zealand’s geothermal power is – about 17% of New Zealand’s total electricity generation.

“We started the week with a showcase of the new 45-hectare He Ahi eco-energy park,  local trust Te Pae o Waimihia’s new venture offering geothermal heat from Contact Energy and custom builds for companies wishing to contribute to a sustainable energy future,” Tsui explains.

“The development acknowledges the relationship and role of local Maori in geothermal, as kaitiaki, owners, investors, operators and employees in the industry, and demonstrates how the industry is striving to reflect M?ori values in its design and operations,” she adds.

Field trips to Mercury and Contact Energy power station sites highlighted the world-class scale of New Zealand’s geothermal generators, including the $818 million 168MW Tauhara power station set to go live late next year.

Industry visitors on a field trip to Mercury’s Ngatamariki site (source: NZ Geothermal Week)

Contact Energy’s geothermal resources and development general manager Mike Dunstall says it’s an exciting time for the geothermal industry to not only see the future economic development opportunities for local communities, but also the crucial role geothermal energy is playing in New Zealand achieving its decarbonisation goals.

The week’s anchor event, the New Zealand Geothermal Association Winter Seminar, enjoyed a record attendance of over 160 delegates from across New Zealand.  Guest speakers included Hon. Dr Megan Woods, EECA Chief Executive Andrew Caseley and Chief Executive of the NZ Institute of Directors, Kirsten Patterson, amongst experts from the energy sector and professional fields.

The New Zealand Geothermal Association also held a gala dinner to celebrate its 30th Anniversary. During the festivities, the New Zealand Geothermal Association Board awarded Lifetime Membership to QSM Aroha Campbell in recognition of her contribution to Maori involvement in geothermal development.

NZ Geothermal Week was hosted by Amplify, the economic development agency for the Taupo district. 18 events ran across NZ Geothermal Week tailored to geothermal industry professionals, the business sector, politicians, schools and the local community.

Over the next month, Amplify will be continuing its efforts to spark interest in STEAM and the geothermal industry among younger people through targeted outreach initiatives with schools in the Taupo, Rotorua and Kawerau districts, GNS Science competitions, and behind-the-scenes tours of leading geothermal companies in the Taupo district.

These events are expected to reach about 1,400 people Waikato, Bay of Plenty and Hawkes Bay students. Amplify and industry sponsors and hosts hope they will inspire young people to consider a future career in the geothermal industry.

Source: Email correspondence