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19 November 2007

Contact confirms binary geothermal plant

Contact Energy today confirmed the company's intent to develop an approximately 20 megawatt geothermal electricity generation binary plant at Centennial Drive in Taupo.

Speaking at the 29th annual geothermal workshop in Auckland, Chief Executive David Baldwin said the plant was already covered by resource consents held by Contact.

“This project will take geothermal steam from the Tauhara steamfield and produce enough renewable electricity to power nearly 20,000 homes. “The project is expected to cost around $75 million, including the associated steamfield work, and the goal is to have the plant up and running in 2009,” he said.

“While this is a relatively small power station, the baseload nature of geothermal electricity will see this project make a valuable contribution to renewable electricity generation from the Taupo region.”

Mr Baldwin said Contact was about to go to the market to determine project suppliers and the final plant configuration. He said the geothermal steam would be piped to the binary plant through around one kilometre of pipe, with all used geothermal fluid re-injected back into the edge of the steamfield.

“This is the first part of Contact's proposed development of the Tauhara geothermal system, which will include a new power station of up to 225 megawatts that we hope to have in service by 2012. Resource consent applications will be filed for this project in 2008.”

Mr Baldwin said Contact had filed resource consent applications for its proposed 220 megawatt Te Mihi geothermal power station at the end of July this year, and has requested this application be called in under the Resource Management Act and considered under a streamlined process.

He told today's workshop that geothermal electricity was critical to meeting the Government's goal of 90 per cent of electricity coming from renewable sources by 2025, and that the call in of major renewable projects would also be required.

“Contact has an exciting renewable geothermal investment programme that can deliver significant quantities of the clean, renewable and reliable electricity that the country requires.

“In order to bring these new projects on line before demand for electricity begins to exceed supply, the country cannot afford any undue delays in the resource consenting process.”

Mr Baldwin also announced a $60,000 annual sponsorship of three students per year who study at the Auckland University's Geothermal Institute.

“As the world looks increasingly to geothermal as a source of renewable energy, leading geothermal developers have a responsibility to ensure the industry has the skills required to continue the responsible development of our geothermal resources,” he said.


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