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New Zealand

Contact Energy to replace Taupō geothermal stations

The Wairākei geothermal power station.
Photo: 123RF

Contact Energy is taking the next steps to replace the 1950s-built Wairākei A and B geothermal power stations in Taupō with a new station at Te Mihi.

Contact last year received resource consent to continue operations at the Wairākei geothermal field for the next 35 years.

A total of up to $114m of development costs has been approved for the project ahead of a final investment decision, early next year.

Funding has been allocated for consenting and mitigation costs, front-end engineering design of the geothermal steamfield and costs to support the in-progress competitive tender process, with a significant proportion of the costs relate to new drilling and well pad preparation.

Contact’s chief development officer Jacqui Nelson said it was a key project for the company.

“It reflects our ongoing commitment to protecting and enhancing the environment in which we operate as well as finding different ways to make the best use of the Wairākei geothermal reservoir to continue to generate reliable, low carbon, renewable electricity,” she said.

“We have learned that completing additional design work, procuring long lead items and accelerating drilling work in advance of the final investment decision, not only facilitates the smooth execution of major projects, but also puts us in a great position to optimise our fuelling strategy for the new plant.”

Nelson said the programme built on Contact’s recent development experience with $1.2b of geothermal projects in construction in the Taupō region.

The company will work with MB Century to start drilling a series of wells on the Wairākei geothermal field from September 2023.

The proposed station is projected to generate 1.4 terawatt hours (TWh)) per annum of baseload renewable electricity, a net increase of 0.4TWh per annum, after the existing Wairākei power station is decommissioned and the new station comes online in the second half of 2026.

https://www.rnz.co.nz/news/business/495085/contact-energy-to-replace-taupo-geothermal-stations Contact Energy to replace Taupō geothermal stations

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