Contact Energy (NZ) has unveiled its newest and most advanced geothermal power station, the final stage of the Wairākei Investment Programme. The Te Mihi geothermal power station ushers in a new era of efficiency and environmental responsibility, taking advantage of the world class Wairākei geothermal resource.

“Te Mihi is a testimony to Contact’s dedication to ensuring New Zealander’s energy needs are met in a safe, reliable and efficient manner. It also 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,” says Contact CEO, Dennis Barnes.

“With two 83 MW 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 Wairākei steamfield, increasing overall efficiency and generation reliability. The Taupō region geothermal resource is large by international standards, ranking 7th in the world with a combined gross geothermal generation output of 431 megawatts across Contact’s five power stations in the region – enough to supply 400,000 kiwi homes.”

Mr Barnes said that Te Mihi is the latest step in advancing New Zealand’s leadership position in renewable electricity generation, at a time when internationally there is currently over 12,000 MW of identified geothermal generation capacity to be developed. “Renewable assets on a scale as large as our Taupō 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. 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.”

“I want to acknowledge the many people and contractors who were involved in this development. Over the course of building Te Mihi, through joint venture partners McConnell Dowell Constructors Ltd, SNC-Lavalin Constructors Inc and Parsons Brinckerhoff, we have employed over 500 contractors, developed homegrown expertise and intellectual property, and contributed approximately $60 million to our New Zealand communities.”

Te Mihi was officially opened by Deputy Prime Minister, Honourable Bill English, at a ceremony attended by over 150 people, including local dignitaries, stakeholders and tangata whenua. “We are pleased to welcome Te Mihi into Contact’s geothermal family. 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.”

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