We are currently considering the development of a potential new geothermal power station on the Tauhara geothermal field in Taupō.
In August 2019, as part of the initial stages of the project, we began drilling four wells to further characterise the geothermal reservoir on the field as we build towards a final decision on whether to build a new power plant in 2020. The drilling is being done by MB Century and started in August 2019 and will continue to early 2020. Each of the four wells are being drilled on different sites, just off Broadlands Road east of Taupō.
Many renewable electricity sources in New Zealand are dependent on the weather. We rely on rain for hydro energy, and wind to drive wind turbines. The benefit of geothermal energy is that no matter what the weather is like, it can still provide a source of energy. This makes it the perfect option for ‘base-load’ electricity - which we believe is a sensible option to meet the future energy needs of New Zealand.
Geothermal energy, however, is only available in certain areas – such as Taupō. We already have five existing geothermal power stations in the area - Wairākei, Te Mihi, Te Huka, Ohaaki and Poihipi.
We have held the consent to develop up to 250MW of new power generation on the Tauhara geothermal field since 2010. Due to low demand for electricity in the interim, we have delayed considering the build.
We expect a steady increase in electricity demand in New Zealand over the next 50 years partly driven by a movement towards using low-carbon electricity substitution for fossil fuels in transport and industry. We believe new renewable geothermal power stations will be required to help New Zealand to meet this growth in demand.
Building a new geothermal power station in Taupō would also help us toward our goal of lowering carbon emissions for New Zealand.
Contact is one of the country’s largest electricity generators, with five geothermal power stations, and a combined gross installed geothermal capacity of 431MW. We’re also proud members of the Taupō community, and aim to be a good neighbour and a steward of resources that we have the privilege to operate and develop.
Sustainability is core to our approach. That means taking care of the environmental, social, cultural and economic aspects of the development from start to finish. Understanding the subsurface environment and managing the precious geothermal resource in a sustainable manner are key to the success of any geothermal development. To achieve that, you’d have to have some of the top geothermal minds in the world on your team. We do.
Geothermal power stations use naturally occurring geothermal activity to produce power which fuel our homes and businesses. Fluid from natural geothermal systems is brought to the surface by wells that typically vary in depth from 1000 to 3000 metres. At the surface this fluid is separated into steam and water. The steam is used in a turbine to generate electricity and the hot geothermal water is either injected back into the ground or drained away.
The Tauhara Moana Trust owns part of the land where we are beginning to drill wells. We have a commercial agreement in place to allow for the utilisation of the geothermal resource beneath the Trust’s land.
This partnership aims to create a long-lasting relationship between the Trust and Contact with both benefiting from the utilisation of the geothermal resource for generations to come. We are proud to be working alongside the Trust landowners in our geothermal developments in a mutually beneficial way. Throughout the nine years since the original deal was signed, we have maintained a relationship based on principles of open communication, trust and mutual respect to keep cooperation thriving.