Tauhara

Tauhara - Building a better energy future

We are currently building Tauhara Power Station in Taupō, Central North Island New Zealand. Tauhara is a 152MW geothermal steam turbine power station, that will be Contact’s sixth geothermal power station in the area.

Construction began in early 2021 with Tauhara expected to be complete and operational mid 2023.

The Tauhara powerstation is situated just off Broadlands Road east of Taupō.

Why Tauhara?

We believe Tauhara is New Zealand’s best low-carbon renewable electricity opportunity. It will operate 24/7, is not reliant on the wind blowing or the sun shining to generate power. Geothermal will play a crucial role in New Zealand’s transition away from fossil fuels.

Tauhara is a great low carbon resource, with a very low carbon emission rate. For example a Combined Cycle Gas Turbine emits 8 x as many carbon emissions for each unit of electricity generated, and coal plants up to 19 x more than Tauhara is projected to. Tauhara will produce 1,300 GWh of electricity per year, which is around 3% of NZ’s electricity and enough for 175,000 households.

Tauhara is expected to displace 450,000 tons per year of carbon emissions as fossil fuel generation is shut down. This is equivalent to removing over 200,000 petrol cars from the New Zealand roads.

Tauhara powerstation will be Contact’s sixth geothermal powerstation in the Central North Island region, adding to our existing over 80% renewable portfolio. Contact’s geothermal plants already supply 8% of New Zealand’s electricity and will increase to 11% once Tauhara is built.

Our Construction partners

Japanese engineering, procurement and construction contractor Sumitomo Corporation is leading the construction of Tauhara, in partnership with Fuji Electric and New Zealand based Naylor Love. Consultant Jacobs have been engaged to undertake design works of the surrounding project works including the steamfield. Contact will also be directly engaging local partners on the project to ensure the economic benefits of the construction project stay with New Zealand businesses as much as possible. These partners include MB Century who have been engaged to drill the geothermal wells and Hicks Bros who have completed all the site earthworks. Several more construction partners will be added as the project progresses.

Why now?

New Zealand is in the early stages of a decades-long transformation from reliance on fossil fuels to renewable electricity. Building Tauhara will be key in delivering on New Zealand’s Zero Carbon 2050 ambitions and updated 2030 targets. 2021 saw a drastic increase in coal use to meet electricity demand.

Geothermal will play a crucial role in New Zealand’s transition away from fossil fuels, and Contact has the expertise in the geothermal field to deliver a world class renewable energy powerstation.

What’s the latest on site?

We have regular newsletters to members of the local Taupo community going out. This will keep you up to date on site happenings and progress reports. We will upload these once they are live, so watch this space. We are also working on a series of video diaries showing the process of building a geothermal power station. We will provide the link to them soon.

Finally there is a timelapse video of the construction site to see project progress. Follow the link here.

Local partnerships & training

Contact strives to be active in the Taupō community as it is our geothermal home too. While building  the Tauhara project we want to make sure the local economy benefits too, so we are working hard to engage local resources wherever we can. We have launched our trades training programme, Ka Hikoi ai te iwi which aims to train and generate employment opportunities for locals who are looking for opportunities. Further information and application forms for Ka Hiko ai te iwi can be applied for through kahiko@contactenergy.co.nz

Our community-based activities can be read about here

We also have an existing partnership with the Tauhara Moana Trust who own land adjacent to where the power station is being built. We have a commercial agreement in place to allow for the utilisation of the geothermal resource beneath the Trust’s land and for the Trust to farm all of Contact’s land on the Tauhara field. If geothermal energy is found under the Trust’s land it will be used in the power station and a portion of the profits will go to the Trust. Contact continues to look to foster long-lasting relationships with landowners to develop further renewable generation projects. We are able to provide the scale and knowledge to help landowners utilise renewable resources for generations to come.

Why Contact?

Contact is one of the country’s largest electricity generators, with five existing geothermal power stations in the Central North Island region. Before Tauhara is completed we have a combined gross installed geothermal capacity of 431MW.

We have world class geothermal capability, with operational experience of running the world’s second longest electricity producing geothermal field (Wairakei, since 1958). 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 need to have some of the top geothermal minds in the world on your team. We do.

We’re 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.

About geothermal

Geothermal energy is a low emission, renewable energy source that is “always on” is not weather dependent and plays a unique part in New Zealand’s energy mix. It is the unsung hero of our renewable generation resources as we move to shift New Zealand towards a lower carbon future.

Geothermal energy is energy generated from deep inside the earth’s core. We use the steam and hot water produced inside the earth to generate electricity and provide heat to industrial processes.

A geothermal system exists where water is able to seep into the ground through cracks and cavities and become heated by the hot rock deep in the earth. Geothermal systems usually occur where the earth’s crust is relatively thin and fractured.

As the water under the ground heats, it becomes less dense and so rises, returning to the surface in the form of geysers, hot springs and/or steam. Large parts of the central North Island – particularly Taupō, Rotorua and north-east into the Bay of Plenty – contain geothermal systems. This area is called the Taupō Volcanic Zone (TVZ). Some are high-temperature systems (150°C to 300°C), and some are relatively low. The Taupō Volcanic Zone is a high-temperature system, and our geothermal field Wairakei-Tauhara is an incredibly hot, clean geothermal resource.

It is the energy in the steam, piped under pressure to the power station, that is used to turn the turbine that generates electricity. The Tauhara Power Station will be a single shaft steam turbine, the largest of it’s kind in the world.

 

The legend of Geothermal and Ngātoro-i–rangi

Ngāti Tūwharetoa of the central North Island are the descendants of Ngātoro-i-rangi. Their relationship with the geothermal resource has evolved from centuries of interaction and study, the essence of which is embodied in tradition and legend. There are many variations of the legend of Ngātoro-i-rangi – the story of how geothermal activity came to the region. According to Māori tradition, Ngātoro-i-rangi was a powerful tohunga and great navigator who led the Te Arawa tribal waka to Aotearoa about 700 years ago. Ngātoro-i-rangi travelled to Aotearoa from Hawaiki and landed at Maketū in the Bay of Plenty on the Eastern Cape of Te Ika-a-Māui.

 

In a journey to find new lands, Ngātoro-i-rangi travelled inland, stopping at Taupō to rest one night. As the clouds cleared, he saw a majestic mountain (Tongariro) to the south. In order to claim the mountain and the surrounding lands, Ngātoro-i-rangi needed to be the first to stand on the summit. As he ascended the mountain, the skies darkened and black clouds enveloped him. He encountered sleet and snow carried by the southern winds. He and his party were almost frozen and in fear of perishing. With great difficulty, he reached the summit. Near death, he cried aloud to his sisters in the far-off homeland of Hawaiki for immediate assistance.

 

Kuiwai and Haungaroa heard their brothers call and filled baskets full of glowing embers. The sister sent the taniwha Te Hoata and Te Pupu to deliver the fire to Ngātoro-i-rangi by travelling underground to Aotearoa. On their journey to Tongariro they surfaced to keep their bearings, as they did, explosions of steam and hot water were sent billowing skyward. Puia (bubbling hot pools), ngäwhä (fumaroles) and geysers were formed at Whakaari, Moutohorā, Rotoiti, Tarawera, Rotorua, Orakei Kōrako, Wairākei, Tokānu and Ketetahi. The pathway of Te Hoata and Te Pupu is in a direct line from White Island to Tongariro. The embers of fierce energy evident at the many geothermal features that now exist.

 

Ngā Hapū o Tauhara are the descendents of Ngātoro-i-rangi and the keepers of his legacy. Their whenua is still warmed by Ngātaro-i-rangi’s fire.

 

Ngā Hapū o Tauhara are Kaitiaki and cherish the Tauhara geothermal taonga by preserving and understanding its Wairua and Mauri.  Like their ancestors, they are nourished physically and spiritually by the taonga.

 

Contact Tauhara Prime minister visit