Kawerau plant played significant role

Power to the people: The Te Ahi O Maui geothermal power plant in Kawerau, New Zealand’s first new geothermal power plant in four years. Picture by Strike Photography
Te Ahi O Maui
Te Ahi O Maui
Te Ahi O Maui
Te Ahi O Maui
Te Ahi O Maui - Ben Gibson

Getting the new Te Ahi O Maui geothermal power plant operational was an “enormous” achievement, Eastland Group chief executive Matt Todd says.

“This is New Zealand’s first major renewable power plant in almost four years.

“It synced to the national grid on October 1, 2018, and is generating around 25 MW of clean, renewable energy — enough to power 25,000 homes. It was delivered alongside our iwi partners and co-investors the A8D Ahu Whenua Trust.

“The strategy behind this major investment was to create positive, long-term returns for Eastland Community Trust, and the local community that ultimately owns us.

“It has provided a model that helps the Iwi landowners unlock economic potential from their land without compromising their kaitiakitanga (guardianship). This approach is already bearing dividends.

“The strong generation prices have seen Te Ahi O Maui make a significant contribution to our record-breaking year. Combined with GDL, our other geothermal plant in Kawerau, Eastland Generation delivered $19.5 million towards our total income.”

Mr Todd said the Kawerau field was a known and tested geothermal resource and Eastland Group was able to work with iwi landowners to put in place a Project Development Agreement.

The transmission line also had enough room to accommodate potential solar generation.

“The transmission line could easily accommodate the biggest solar PV installation currently installed in NZ, which is 411kW.

“We see that there is an opportunity to grow all forms of renewable generation and we have a long-term solar trial under way. The data is currently being analysed.”

Mr Todd said energy generated was sold on the spot market and through a power purchase agreement.

“Revenue from our two geothermal plants will be roughly $20m or 20 percent of total Eastland Group revenue. The reason we sell some of our output on fixed prices is to eliminate some of the spot market volatility.”

Some residents were already benefiting from lower power bills as a result.

“Eastland Group is currently selling some of its generation to Flick (which Eastland owns 20 percent of) and they are offering a very competitive electricity deal for residents of Tairawhiti.

“We have examples of people saving several hundreds of dollars per year.”

Eastland Group generation general manager and TAOM project director Ben Gibson said the plant’s design meant it was environmentally friendly.

“The process is a closed loop system. The geothermal fluid is piped out of the ground, has the heat extracted by way of heat exchangers and is then injected back into the ground.

“Our plant operations team have personal gas detectors and we have systems and processes in place to control work in a safe manner.”

Getting the new Te Ahi O Maui geothermal power plant operational was an “enormous” achievement, Eastland Group chief executive Matt Todd says.

“This is New Zealand’s first major renewable power plant in almost four years.

“It synced to the national grid on October 1, 2018, and is generating around 25 MW of clean, renewable energy — enough to power 25,000 homes. It was delivered alongside our iwi partners and co-investors the A8D Ahu Whenua Trust.

“The strategy behind this major investment was to create positive, long-term returns for Eastland Community Trust, and the local community that ultimately owns us.

“It has provided a model that helps the Iwi landowners unlock economic potential from their land without compromising their kaitiakitanga (guardianship). This approach is already bearing dividends.

“The strong generation prices have seen Te Ahi O Maui make a significant contribution to our record-breaking year. Combined with GDL, our other geothermal plant in Kawerau, Eastland Generation delivered $19.5 million towards our total income.”

Mr Todd said the Kawerau field was a known and tested geothermal resource and Eastland Group was able to work with iwi landowners to put in place a Project Development Agreement.

The transmission line also had enough room to accommodate potential solar generation.

“The transmission line could easily accommodate the biggest solar PV installation currently installed in NZ, which is 411kW.

“We see that there is an opportunity to grow all forms of renewable generation and we have a long-term solar trial under way. The data is currently being analysed.”

Mr Todd said energy generated was sold on the spot market and through a power purchase agreement.

“Revenue from our two geothermal plants will be roughly $20m or 20 percent of total Eastland Group revenue. The reason we sell some of our output on fixed prices is to eliminate some of the spot market volatility.”

Some residents were already benefiting from lower power bills as a result.

“Eastland Group is currently selling some of its generation to Flick (which Eastland owns 20 percent of) and they are offering a very competitive electricity deal for residents of Tairawhiti.

“We have examples of people saving several hundreds of dollars per year.”

Eastland Group generation general manager and TAOM project director Ben Gibson said the plant’s design meant it was environmentally friendly.

“The process is a closed loop system. The geothermal fluid is piped out of the ground, has the heat extracted by way of heat exchangers and is then injected back into the ground.

“Our plant operations team have personal gas detectors and we have systems and processes in place to control work in a safe manner.”

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