New Zealand making big moves in geothermal | News | Kawerau

Exterior of 100 MW geothermal power plant at Kawerau, New Zealand. Credit: Rjglewis/Wikimedia Commons

“We are now the fifth largest geothermal power generator in the world,” he said.

New Zealand produces 79.9 percent of their electricity from renewable energy resources, and Bridges explained that the renewables sector worldwide is expected to reach $7 trillion in private sector investment between 2012 and 2030. 

He added that since 2010, total installed worldwide capacity from geothermal power plants has increased by 16 percent — to 12,635 megawatts (MW) — and it’s expected to double between 2010 and 2020.

“My country, New Zealand, has contributed nearly a quarter of this increased capacity over the past five years,” Bridges explained. “We are now the fifth largest geothermal power generator in the world. Of course, we are fortunate to have abundant energy resources.”

Geothermal has a long history in New Zealand, having been first used by indigenous Māori communities to cook, bathe, and provide heat. In the 1950s, the country established their first geothermal plant, Wairakei, and was the first in the world to generate electricity using a liquid-dominated geothermal resource. According to Bridges, “for over 50 years, Wairakei has provided the country’s most reliable source of energy. The Kawerau geothermal field has been the site of the largest industrial use of geothermal energy in the world for over 50 years and continues to expand.”

Bridges said that between 2008 and 2014, there was NZ$2 billion invested in geothermal in the country, which has led to 1,000 MW of installed capacity — or 16 percent of New England’s electricity production.

“At 79.9 per cent, New Zealand’s share of renewable electricity generation in 2014 was the highest it has been since 1996 — and the fourth highest in the world,” Bridges said. “New Zealand is making strong progress towards our ambitious goal of having 90 per cent of our electricity supply generated by renewables by 2025.”

Bridges explained that because electricity demand in New Zealand has fallen flat, the country is working to build international partnerships to create worldwide renewable energy. He said, “The increasing number of countries actively investigating geothermal as a reliable, cleaner alternative to fossil fuels within their expanding electricity markets positions New Zealand to play a leading role in this space.”

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