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New Zealand: Geothermal Expertise Tapped for Chile

New Zealand and Chile are engaging in a strategic partnership in geothermal energy, according to several sources. The New Zealand Embassy in Santiago, Chile offers a Joint Statement from Prime Minister Rt Hon John Key and the Chilean President, Sebastian Piñera, issued in March 2013 from Chile. The purpose of the statement was to set out the framework for the relationship between the two countries, which are also linked by the Trans-Pacific Strategic Economic Partnership Agreement (TPP) signed in 2005 between Brunei Darussalam, Chile, New Zealand and Singapore.

From the Joint Statement: “The Leaders discussed energy, in particular Chile’s desire to increase the share of non-conventional renewable energies in its energy mix. Prime Minister Key spoke of New Zealand’s experience in this area, particularly in geothermal energy development. President Piñera expressed a strong interest in continuing to encourage the future development of commercially viable geothermal energy in Chile. They both committed to maintaining the current level of exchange and expertise between New Zealand and Chile, recognized the success of the first Energy Cooperation Programme during the years 2011 and 2012, and welcomed agreement on the second Programme for 2013 and 2014.”

The Chilean government’s current goal is to reach a 10 percent renewable energy share by 2024. A bill under discussion in Congress would raise
the target to 15 or 20 percent. "The international geothermal industry is small, so the people involved know each other. Chile is seen as an important place for  geothermal energy and this is reflected in the number of companies that are studying the possibility of investing here," said Andrea Blair the geothermal business development manager at GNS Science, a New Zealand-based consultancy.

Along with GNS Science other leading New Zealand companies recently in participated in the 2nd Annual International Geothermal Congress in Santiago: Geothermal New Zealand, Hawkins Infrastructure, MB Century, and The University of Auckland´s Geothermal Institute.

Hawkins Infrastructure is the largest privately owned New Zealand general contractor. A press release notes there are some 70 New Zealand companies with geothermal expertise across the value chain; from exploration and drilling through to design, project management, construction and operation.

“There is a clear global demand for the skills of New Zealand power companies, engineers, universities and scientists. We see great opportunities to foster this strategic partnership in geothermal energy in Chile, where there is an increasing demand for energy supply due to the favorable domestic economic conditions and the expansion of high consumption sectors like mining,” Rhianon Berry, New Zealand Trade & Enterprise´s trade commissioner in Chile is quoted.

In a recent newsletter GEA noted that New Zealand experience is also being tapped for geothermal progress in Hawaii. At April’s end, Office of Hawaiian Affairs (OHA) trustees voted six to one to invest in Hu`ena Power geothermal energy development who parent Innovations Development Group has worked effectively in New Zealand through a business model sharing long-term of benefits with indigenous communities.

Lead image: Geothermal plant via Shutterstock

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Leslie is located in Washington DC at the Office of the Geothermal Energy Association and serves on the Renewable Energy World North America Conference and Expo committee.

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