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Eastland begins commissioning Te Ahi O Maui geothermal plant

Friday 28th September 2018

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Eastland Group today began commissioning the firm’s 25 megawatt Te Ahi O Maui geothermal power plant at Kawerau.

Initial heating of the plant began this week, and it should be synchronised to the national grid over the next few days. Once fully operational it should produce enough power for around 25,000 homes.

“We look forward to seeing Te Ahi O Maui provide baseload renewable energy to New Zealand’s emerging alternative energy markets, and playing a greater role in meeting the country’s current and future energy needs,” Eastland chief executive Matt Todd said.

“We’re exploring ways that we can use the output commercially, to support businesses and the communities we operate in.”

The $137 million project is a venture between Eastland, which operates the region’s electricity network, and the Kawerau A8D Ahu Whenua Trust, which owns the land the station has been built on, north-east of Kawerau. The project can draw up to 15,000 tonnes of geothermal fluid daily

The power station has been built by US-based renewable energy company Ormat Technologies, which is expected to hand the project over for commercial operations next month.

Community-owned Eastland also operates the port in Gisborne, the city’s airport, and has a 20 percent stake in spot-based electricity retailer Flick Electric. It has been looking to diversify its holdings by sector and geography. 

At March 30 the group had $547.3 million of assets, including the 5 MW Waihi hydro dam it operates near Wairoa and the 9 MW GDL geothermal plant it acquired at Kawerau in 2010.

Eastland was granted consent for Te Ahi O Maui just over four years ago. The first batch of drilling began in late 2016 and plant construction started in early 2017.

Eastland said the project was originally conceived as a 22 MW development, but it is now expected to deliver about 25 MW. The increased output has reduced the total per-megawatt construction cost, including drilling, to about $5.45m/MW, Todd said.


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