Geothermal power in New Zealand

Geothermal power in New Zealand

Geothermal power in New Zealand is a small but significant part of the energy generation capacity of the country, providing approximately 7% of the country's electricity with installed capacity of over 400 MW. [ Geothermal Energy and Electricity Generation] New Zealand Geothermal Association. Accessed 2008-02-23.)] New Zealand, like only a small number of other countries worldwide, has numerous geothermal sites that could be developed for exploitation, and also boasts some of the earliest large-scale use of geothermal energy in the world.

Geothermal fields

The exploration of New Zealand's geothermal fields has been very extensive, and by the 1980s, most fields were considered mapped, with 129 found, of which 14 are in the 70-140°C range, 7 in the 140-220°C range and 15 in the >220°C range. Currently, some potential new geothermal fields are being surveyed that have no surface expression.

New Zealand's high-temperature geothermal fields are mostly concentrated around the Taupo Volcanic Zone (which also has most of the currently operating generation capacity), in the central North Island, with another major field at Ngawha Springs in Northland. However, more systems (some of them potentially exploitable) are scattered all over the country, from the Hauraki Plains to the Bay of Plenty to numerous hot springs in the South Island, most of them associated with faults and other tectonic features. [ Geothermal Fields] New Zealand Geothermal Association. Accessed 2008-02-23.)]


Geothermal energy use in New Zealand is strongly tied to Wairakei, where the first geothermal plant was opened in 1958. At that time, it was only the second large-scale plant existing world-wide (the first being the Valle del Diavolo 'Devil's Valley' plant in Larderello, Italy opened in 1911). [" [,8816,901030616-457349,00.html Steaming Forward] " - "Time", 2003-06-08. Accessed 2008-06-19.] Several new plants and efficiency-enhancing second-stage equipment have been added since, though there is also some loss of steam generation due to the decade-long drawdown. Some plants are therefore capped in steam extraction volumes to allow the fields to regenerate, and a percentage of the steam/water is reinjected.

The Ngawha geothermal plant was the first to come into operation via a resource consent applied for and issued under the Resource Management Act.

Currently (2008) the Kawerau geothermal power station is being built by Mighty River Power in Kawerau, in the eastern Bay of Plenty. The Waitangi Tribunal is currently hearing claims by Tuwharetoa Ki Kawerau regarding the Kawerau geothermal resource. [ Regulatory Settings] New Zealand Geothermal Association Accessed 2008-05-16.)] Kawerau geothermal power station entered commercial operation in 2008. Contact Energy is developing the 23 MW Centennial Drive Plant, a binary plant near Taupo. It is due to enter commercial operation in 2010.

Laws and regulations

;Geothermal Energy Act 1953The Geothermal Energy Act 1953 was made redundant by the Resource Management Act 1991 (RMA). The Geothermal Energy Act granted water rights, which have generally been replaced by RMA resource consents.

;Geothermal Energy Regulations 1961The Geothermal Energy Regulations 1961 define the role of "geothermal inspectors" and specifies processes for applications for authorities and licences [ [ Geothermal Energy Regulations 1961] New Zealand Parlimentary Counsel Office. Accessed 2008-05-16.] .

;Rotorua City Geothermal Energy Empowering Act 1967The Rotorua City Geothermal Energy Empowering Act 1967 is an Act to enable the Rotorua City Council to make provisions for the control of the tapping and use of geothermal energy in the city of Rotorua.

;Resource Management Act 1991The Resource Management Act 1991 (RMA) is a significant, and at times, controversial Act of Parliament passed in 1991. The RMA regulates access to natural and physical resources such as land, air and water, with sustainable use of these resources being the overriding goal. New Zealand's Ministry for the Environment describes the RMA as New Zealand's principal legislation for environmental management. [ [ Resource Management Act] (from the Ministry for the Environment website. Retrieved 2007-07-31.)]

The Resource Management Act is the principal legislation controlling the use of geothermal resources in New Zealand. The New Zealand Geothermal Association considers the procedures which are currently being adopted under the RMA as the single largest obstacle to further geothermal development, holding that "the regulatory process leads to long delays which impose a significant up-front cost on projects, reducing their financial viability".

List of geothermal power stations

*Wairakei Power Station
*Kawerau geothermal power station
*Te Mihi Power Station
*Ngawha Geothermal Power Station [ [ Top energy] - Ngawha Geothermal Power Station]

See also

*Electrical energy in New Zealand
*Renewable energy in New Zealand


External links

* [ Geothermal energy in New Zealand] in Te Ara the Encyclopedia of New Zealand

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