Geothermal Education Office

NEW ZEALAND - This small Pacific "ring of fire" country along the southeast subducting boundary of the Pacific plate has many hot-spring areas and several active volcanoes. In the early 1950s, with no oil and little hydropower on the North Island, geothermal development was started at the Wairakei field. By 1960 the power plant was generating 69 MWe of electricity and now produces 157 MWe. Wairakei was the first large hot-water field ever developed. At Kawerau 200 tons/h of geothermal steam is used directly to dry pulp in a paper mill and also generates 16 MWe of electricity. The total geothermal capacity is now 341 MWe with another 306 MWe under construction or planned. Some steam is used at Broadlands to heat a Maori tribal pool and to dry crops, and houses are heated from shallow wells in Rotorua and Taupo. Hot spring waters are widely used for bathing and greenhouses. Total direct use is about 1837 GWh/yr. Australia uses 29 GWh/yr for swimming pools and district heating (19,000 m2); far more is cooled for stock watering. Test plants produce 20 and 150 kWe from hot aquifers. The great Australian aquifer, the major source of agricultural water for inland New South Wales, reaches 75degrees C. In Australia, hot water is also used for wool dyeing and paper making.

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October 11, 1997
© 1997 Geothermal Education Office