Mighty River Power Makes Geothermal Moves

In New Zealand, for Mighty River Power Ltd., the new Nga Awa Purua Geothermal Power Station, a joint venture between Mighty River Power and the Tauhara North No.2 Trust, is now fully operational at 140 megawatts (MW). Reports also have the company planning to open its 70 MW joint venture in Chile by 2013.

The Nga Awa Purua station, which was constructed by Sumitomo Corporation in partnership with Fuji Electric, the main suppliers, and Hawkins Construction, was finished ahead of schedule and with a total capacity of 8 MW more than originally planned. The $308 million station has been handed over to Mighty River Power, who will operate it on behalf of the Nga Awa Purua joint venture.

With the new plant, Mighty River now owns or operates more than 400 MW of geothermal capacity. The official opening of the power station will not take place until May.

In Chile, New Zealand state-owned Mighty River will begin drilling during the summer at Tolhuaca, southeast of Concepcion. Chile has been in search of new sources of energy, as natural gas supplies from neighbor Argentina are notoriously unreliable. The country has at least three other development deals with Italy’s Enel, Canada’s Magma Energy and Ram Power of the U.S. all recently being awarded concessions there. Chile intends to develop as much as 2,000 MW over the next ten years.

Mighty River gained access to five locations through Denver, Colorado-based associate GeoGlobal Energy LLC and its GGE Chile SpA subsidiary. Chile’s resources are said to be much like those Mighty River has developed in New Zealand and GGE recently reported on its San Gregorio concession. Early work completed in 2009 finds temperatures of 220 to 250 C at just over 3,000 ft.

Much of New Zealand’s resources are found at shallow depths as well, positioning Mighty River well to exploint those in Chile. The first project is projected to result in a 70 MW plant at a cost of $220 million.

In the meantime, the company reported a first half net profit of $52.9 million, up from $22 million the previous year and paid its first interim dividend to the government. The payment of $40.3 million was for the six months to the end of December, 2009.

This story was originally published by Geothermal Digest and was reprinted with permission

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