New Zealand is a world leader in geothermal, and was the first country to generate electricity using a liquid-dominated geothermal resource. Built in 1958, the Wairakei geothermal power plant was the first dedicated station in the world to generate electricity using a liquid-dominated geothermal resource.
For New Zealand, securing significant generation from geothermal is a key element of the Government’s stated plan to achieve 90 percent renewable electricity by 2025. Already, around 75 percent of New Zealand's electricity generating capability comes from renewable resources and the country is making good progress to achieve its 2025 ultimate goal.
The Maori term Kaitiakitanga means guardianship, protection and preservation, and that’s how New Zealand approaches its role in successfully, sustainably and respectfully managing geothermal resources.
In more than a half century since commission, Wairakei has continued to provide New Zealand’s most reliable source of electricity. A new plant at Wairakei and several other fields will ensure this geothermal benefit continues for many years to come.
Partnering with New Zealand
In the year ending December 2014, geothermal contributed 16.2 percent of New Zealand’s electricity production and is estimated currently (April 2015) at 18 percent. Forecasts predict that this figure will increase to around 17 percent over the coming year. This has led to an innovative and world leading workforce, boasting expertise in geothermal science, engineering and construction.
As demand for renewable energy surges amidst concerns over energy security, geothermal energy is receiving growing international attention.
New Zealand is the fourth largest geothermal generator in the world - behind the United States, Indonesia and the Philippines, producing 7000 GWH annual electricity. Estimates suggest this will more than double in the next 10 years – an investment of some US$50 billion.
For New Zealand, securing
significant generation from
geothermal is a key element
of the Government’s stated
plan to achieve 90 percent
renewable electricity by 2025.
Current global geothermal
generation is around 12,600 MW.
Estimates suggest this will
more than double in the next
10 years – an investment
of some US$50 billion.
An increasing number of countries are actively investigating geothermal as a reliable, cleaner alternative to the diminishing reserves of carbon-based fossil fuels, providing secure base-load generation within their expanding electricity markets. Where there are premium geothermal resources, can be one of the most attractive commercial energy options.
Public and private utilities, corporations, and financial institutions increasingly see geothermal energy developments as viable commercial opportunities.
Many of these investors have significant power generation portfolios, but often little or no geothermal experience. New Zealand is perfectly positioned to play a leading role in this flourishing international industry. New Zealand has recently commissioned a number of innovative geothermal power plants: Kawerau, Nga– Wha–, Nga– Awa Pu–rua, Te Huka, Nga–tamariki and Te Mihi.
For example, commissioned in 2010, Mighty River Power’s Nga Awa Purua power station features the largest single-shaft geothermal turbine in the world. The turbine alone weighs 70t and with the casing it weighs 210t and is custom designed to make efficient use of the Rotokawa steam field.
These plants have helped make New Zealand the fourth largest geothermal producer in the world. As well as this, a number of industrial-scale, direct-use projects have been developed as more companies recognise the value of the heat available.
To download the complete geothermal energy handbook, please see related downloads at the bottom of the page.