The 42nd New Zealand Geothermal Workshop

An ISE reunion with familiar colleagues


REYKJAVIK, December 09 - Late last month ISE Director Dr. Juliet Newson had the chance to meet up with Contact Energy NZ Ltd geothermal reservoir engineers Nataly Castillo-Ruiz and Dr. Katie McLean at the 42nd New Zealand Geothermal Workshop. This year the workshop was held at beautiful Paihia in northern New Zealand, which is near the Ngawha Geothermal field. Being the longest-running energy conference in New Zealand, this event showcases keynote speakers, short course opportunities, and chances to interact with the geothermal community from New Zealand and around the world.


Juliet worked as a geothermal reservoir modelling engineer at Contact Energy for five years before she came to Iceland. Katie has been working for Contact since 2009 and completed a PhD in geothermal reservoir modelling in early 2020. She will give a lecture on geothermal pressure transient analysis for ISE's Geothermal Reservoir Engineering course next year. Nataly graduated from the Iceland School of Energy with a Masters in Sustainable Energy in 2018 and moved to New Zealand to work for Contact Energy at Wairakei in November 2018.

Contact Energy is New Zealand's 2nd largest electricity generator, with geothermal, hydro, and gas assets, and is also an electricity retailer. Geothermal power contributes around 17% of NZ total electricity generation, hydro contributes another 60%, wind around 5%, and the remainder is from fossil fuels. Contact generates around 410 MW of geothermal electricity and sells heat directly to a timber drying plant, a prawn farm, and various other tourist ventures. Currently, they have a test plant extracting silica from geothermal waste fluid.

The local energy company Top Energy owns and operates two power stations on Ngawha that currently generate 26.6 MW of electricity (70% of the total regional requirement) for the Northland region. Top Energy also hosted the NZ Geothermal Workshop Field Trip where they got to learn more about Top Energy's latest project: a new 31 MW binary geothermal power station (shown in the photo). Although COVID caused work to stop on the project earlier this year, development has resumed as New Zealand now has reported no community transmission of COVID. The project is expected to be commissioned by the end of 2020.


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