Contact unveils its most advanced geothermal station

Contact Energy Limited (Contact) has unveiled its newest and most advanced geothermal power station, the final stage of the Wairakei Investment Program.

Contact chief executive officer Dennis Barnes said the world class Wairakei geothermal resource, Te Mihi, ushers in a new era of efficiency and environmental responsibility.

“Te Mihi represents a step into the future, helping provide renewable lower-cost base load electricity to the market to power the homes and businesses in our communities,” he said.

“With two 83MW steam turbines, the plant has been designed to make the best use of steam and maximise capacity. A vast network of pipes connects Te Mihi to the Wairakei steamfield, increasing overall efficiency and generation reliability.”

The Taupo region geothermal resource is large by international standards, ranking seventh in the world with a combined gross geothermal generation output of 431MW across Contact’s five power stations in the region – enough to supply 400,000 local homes.

Mr Barnes said Te Mihi is the latest step in advancing New Zealand’s leadership position in renewable electricity generation, at a time when internationally there is more than 12,000MW of identified geothermal generation capacity to be developed.

“Renewable assets on a scale as large as our Taupo steamfield operations are rare around the world. Besides the clear environmental benefits, these long life assets offer strong cash flow for investors that can be sustained over the long-term,” he said.

“Provided a stable and supportive policy and regulatory environment is maintained, Contact and its shareholders will investigate further geothermal investment in New Zealand’s electricity market when market conditions dictate.

“Over the course of building Te Mihi, through joint venture partners McConnell Dowell Constructors, SNC-Lavalin Constructors Inc and Parsons Brinckerhoff, we have employed more than 500 contractors, developed homegrown expertise and intellectual property, and contributed approximately $60 million to our New Zealand communities.”

Te Mihi will was officially opened on August 14 by Deputy Prime Minister, Honourable Bill English, at a ceremony to attended by local dignitaries, stakeholders and tangata whenua, the indigenous peoples of New Zealand.

“This flexible, fully integrated power station ensures that we can continue to efficiently meet the energy needs of New Zealanders today and into the future,” Mr Barnes said.