New Zealand Gas Company Invests in Renewable Energy

Through recent investments of NZ$2 billion [US$1.4 billion] made in renewable energy generation by Contact Energy, a New Zealand-based gas company, the country is closer to attaining a more sustainable and climate-friendly energy generation sector.

The next stage of Contact Energy’s renewable energy generation growth would come through an investment in up to 260 megawatts (MW) of new geothermal generation, with two new power stations planned for the Taupo region by 2012. The first is slated for the Tauhara steamfield and the second would replace the Wairakei geothermal power station. According to David Baldwin, Contact’s Chief Executive, “Strong geothermal development is critical if we are to meet demand growth through renewables, particularly during peak periods.” Contact’s agenda in wind generation include developing four wind farm sites, two are under way and may contribute up to 400 MW of clean, renewable electricity for the country. An anticipated purchase of two further wind farm sites that show signs for capacity to generate up to 300 MW, require further feasibility work. Baldwin said the development of any two of these wind farm sites would cost up to $1 billion. “It will be important for the New Zealand Energy Strategy to permit [the] old and inefficient thermal plant to be replaced with cleaner, more efficient combined-cycle stations,” said Baldwin. “In this context, Otahuhu C will play an important role in reducing the sector’s greenhouse gas emissions.” Given appropriate policy settings, the company would provide a robust submission on the Government’s draft, New Zealand Energy Strategy. “As a company prepared to invest billions of dollars in new renewable generation projects, we need investment certainty,” said Baldwin. “Contact’s submission on the draft energy strategy will support a level playing field between all market participants, and the market reflecting the true costs of energy generation, rather than any system of subsidies and interference in the market.”
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