Assisting Ngāti Tūwharetoa Geothermal Asset’s operating potential of their geothermal fields and renewable electricity supply.

Nestled beneath Putauaki the Kawerau geothermal system is the largest direct heat use site of geothermal steam in the world. In this respect, Ngāti Tūwharetoa Geothermal Assets (‘NTGA’) supplies renewable electricity for Kawerau’s industrial customers from this important geothermal system. In order to maximise the benefits of this relatively low cost, efficient and renewable energy source NTGA sought to change the conditions of the current resource consent to determine how their geothermal fluid would be discharged and the period in which this consent continues. In that regard, the resource consent requires the injection of the ‘spent geothermal fluid’ (which is the geothermal fluid once the majority of its heat has been used) back into the geothermal system by a set date. As a consequence, it requires that part of NTGA’s existing discharge to the Tarawera River needs to cease by the same date. While not wishing to deviate from reducing the discharge to the Tarawera River, NTGA sought a 15-year extension to the date by when injection is required to commence.

Enspire had previously assisted the Bay of Plenty Regional Council (as the ‘reporting planner’) for when NTGA sought to ‘renew’ its discharge consents. That process was detailed and involved the consideration of a significant volume of material. Revisiting an element of the discharge strategy was something that needed to be advanced carefully and only once full consideration had been given to the implications that it could have on the Tarawera River, the geothermal system and the cultural values and associations that are known to exist. It also required the adoption and implementation of a well thought out consultation strategy.

The application to change the resource consent has been lodged, on time and to budget. It has been well received and is progressing in accordance with expected timeframes.