Geothermal energy has the potential to make a significant contribution to New Zealand’s energy requirements, either through electricity generation or, with even higher levels of efficiency, as a direct source of heat. However, because geothermal steam cannot be transported for more than a few tens of kilometres, the opportunities for direct use are limited and large-scale electricity generation is the most attractive option.
New Zealand has substantial geothermal resources that are accessible and untapped. A comprehensive assessment of New Zealand’s high temperature geothermal resources is that by Lawless (2002), the total resource is estimated as equivalent to a about 3600 MWe of electrical generation, using only existing technology. Almost 1,000 MWe is currently installed, so existing development represents about 30 % of the total high temperature resource