Major milestone for New Zealand’s newest geothermal renewable power station

Source: 5/6/2024, Location: Not categorized

It’s full steam ahead at Tauhara as Contact Energy tests the turbine

A major milestone in the commissioning of Contact Energy’s (Contact) Tauhara geothermal power station in Taupo has been reached with the turbine turning for the first time.

Contact’s CEO Mike Fuge says getting steam to the turbine, which is one of the world’s largest single shaft geothermal turbines, and seeing it turn is a massive milestone for the commissioning phase of the project. “It’s what the team has been working towards for a long time and to reach this point after everything they have overcome is something to be incredibly proud of,” says Mike.

The occasion was marked with a ceremony with representatives from Sumitomo, Contact’s main contractor on the project, Fuji Electric and Naylor Love, and representatives from tangata whenua. Sumitomo provided traditional Japanese ceremonial offerings to wish for a good operation of the power station. Tangata whenua also offered a ‘whakawatea’ (clearing the way) in support of the occasion.

There is more work ahead before Tauhara, Contact’s sixth geothermal power station, will be fully operational, says Mike Fuge.

“Over the next few months we will be doing more rigorous testing. This includes a week-long test with Transpower this week where a small amount of electricity generated from Tauhara will be sent to the grid for the first time – another key milestone as we work towards leading the decarbonisation of the country.

“These tests ensure that Tauhara runs effectively and safely before becoming operational later this year. It is another step in our commitment for our generation operations to be net zero by 2035.”

Key facts about Tauhara:
Tauhara is part of Contact’s $1.2 billion investment into expanding its geothermal renewable energy generation portfolio in Taupo. This also includes building another power station, Te Huka 3 which will provide a further 1.5 per cent of renewable energy to New Zealand.
Tauhara is one of the largest single shaft geothermal turbines in the world. Initially it will generate 152 megawatts (MW) of renewable energy.
Once up to full capacity, Tauhara will produce around 174 MW of electricity, which is around 3.5 percent of the country’s electricity, enough for 200,000 households.
Tauhara is expected to displace around 500,000 tonnes per year of CO2 emissions as fossil fuel generation is reduced. This is the equivalent to removing more than 220,000 cars from New Zealand’s roads.
Geothermal power stations, like Tauhara, can operate constantly because they are not reliant on the wind blowing or the sun shining to generate power, meaning they create a reliable source of low carbon electricity.

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