NZGA Seminar 2021: Geothermal in a Low Carbon Future

On 29th July, the New Zealand Geothermal Association held our annual winter seminar, this year focussing on how the geothermal industry can contribute to reducing national (and global) carbon emissions. It was a well-attended event, with almost 150 registrations from both those well-immersed in the industry and newcomers to the geothermal sector.

 

Sandra Velarde
Kennie Tsui
Paul Siratovich

The day started with a karakia from Geoff Rameka, and an introduction from NZGA President, Paul Siratovich, giving a brief overview of the current activities that the Association is involved in. This was followed by presentations based around the Climate Change Commission’s recently published advice to the Government. First to speak was Kennie Tsui, NZGA Chief Executive and recent Principal Analyst for CCC. Kennie was able to give insight into how the NZGA’s submission had been incorporated into the final advice, thanks to her unique affiliation with both organisations. The next speaker was Sandra Velarde, current Senior Analyst for CCC. Sandra spoke in more detail about the implications and findings collated for the advice, giving a comprehensive overview of the decisions now ahead for the Government.

 

 

 

Louise Tong, via Zoom
Genelle Palmer

These talks were followed by Contact Energy’s Genelle Palmer, covering the various ways that Contact are looking to reduce emissions from their geothermal energy production. This included a frank outline of the current emissions from the company’s power plants, as well as the reasoning and progress behind the current emission reduction strategies. The Seminar then heard from Louise Tong from BNZ, talking on the topic of Toitū Putea / Sustainable Finance. This presentation almost didn’t happen; Louise’s plane had been unable to land in Taupō that morning, and she had to join us via Zoom instead. This added extra entertainment once it was established that she was actually presenting from the Koru Lounge, and her talk was intermittently interrupted by overhead announcements from the airport! This did not detract from the key messages in her presentation; the importance of companies to address environmental sustainability within their finances and investments, and the resulting implication that they are now looking to invest in sustainable energies.

 

 

After a short break, the Seminar moved to a technical focus, starting with a presentation from Isabelle Chambefort from GNS Science. Isabelle spoke on the current research project “Geothermal Next Generation”, discussing the innovation of utilising deep super-heated geothermal fluids in order to provide new options for energy needs, in order to transition to a low-carbon economy.  This was followed by University of Auckland’s Eylem Kaya, talking about CO2 reinjection, and its effects on the sustainability of geothermal reservoirs based on three case studies including the Wairakei-Tahura field. Finishing this series of presentations was Suren Wijeyekoon, from Scion Research. This presentation showed the ways in which geothermal can improve the economics of wood processing, as well as highlighting that the bioenergy and geothermal industries are covering similar territory with their investigations into CO2 capture technologies.

 

 

First to talk after lunch was Fabian Hanik, Assistant Plant Manager at Top Energy’s Ngāwhā Power Plant, who presented on the greenhouse gas emissions profile, and how to manage the emissions by optimising the plant’s operating conditions. Kererua Savage, Deputy Chair of Toi Kai Rawa Trust, talked about the work done by the Trust, and how to encourage and enable more Māori into the geothermal workforce, starting with the promotion of STEM subjects at school. Mana Newton, CEO of Tauhara North No.2 Trust then covered the history and connection of the Trust’s landowners to the Taupo Volcanic Region. This tied in with the previous presentation and the need to increase Māori representation within the geothermal sector.

 

The afternoon panel consisted of Kererua Savage, Mana Newton, Isabelle Chambefort, Genelle Palmer and Sandra Velarde, and was chaired by NZGA Board Member, Jeremy O’Brien. This discussion tied together the themes from the day, and looked towards the next steps for the geothermal industry.

 

With the post-Seminar drinks in sight, the final presentation of the day aptly came from Pink & White Geothermal Gin’s Mitchell Collins. The Double Gold award-winning gin distillery is making waves in the NZ spirit scene, although Mitchell did admit that they are yet to successfully incorporate the geothermal element. The talk was light-hearted and entertaining, and followed by a complimentary taster of the gin in question.

 

The day was full, informative, and fitted in well amongst the Geothermal Week activities being held in Taupō. We thank all who attended and our wonderful presenters, and are thrilled to have furthered some important conversations.

 

Presentations available:

Welcome to 2021 NZGA Winter Seminar – Paul Siratovich & Kennie Tsui

Ināia tonu nei: the Commission’s advice – Sandra Velarde

Contact Energy – Emission Reduction Opportunities – Genelle Palmer

Powering up with Sustainable Finance – Louise Tong

Incorporating Geothermal into Wood Processing and Bioenergy – Paul Bennett, presented by Suren Wijeyekoon

Top Energy and Ngawha Generation company structure – Fabian Hanik

Position for the Next Generation of the Geothermal Workforce – Kererua Savage

Tauhara North – Mana Newton