Element - - Sponsor Case Study -

There's some­thing about re­new­able en­ergy that re­ally ex­cites folks.

Richard Grif­fiths, strate­gic as­set man­ager at Merid­ian knows this only too well. He caught a glimpse of his fu­ture on his rst visit to the Manapouri hy­dro power sta­tion, back when he was 10.

"My Dad de­cided we should go on a big road trip around the South Is­land," he says. "We did about six or seven weeks, camp­ing. I re­mem­ber it as one of the best hol­i­days we ever had, but I was talk­ing to my Mum the other day and she re­mem­bers it as a com­plete e night­mare!

"I re­mem­ber go­ing across the lake and into the ac­cess tun­nel. It is ex­tra­or­di­nary, go­ing across in the boat. It's just amaz­ing. It is a beau­ti­ful lake. There is a real sense of oc­ca­sion, and be­cause it is the only way in there is a real sense of mys­tery. Go­ing down the long dark tun­nel, it was damp and steep, and then it opens out into this enor­mous ma­chine hall. There is a sense of awe and won­der.

"As a kid you just sort of take it all in your stride, but when I had the op­por­tu­nity to work there I still had that same sense of amaze­ment. It's now 11 years since I started do­ing work there and I still get that when I visit. To think that sta­tion is right down at the bot­tom of New Zealand, pro­duc­ing enor­mous amounts of en­ergy without burn­ing any fuel, just us­ing wa­ter, that is some­thing to be­hold."

Richard stud­ied me­chan­i­cal engi­neer­ing at Can­ter­bury Univer­sity. He spent most of his twen­ties over­seas, with some of that time work­ing on mines in Africa and Aus­tralia be­fore work with an engi­neer­ing con­sul­tancy com­pany brought him back to Manapouri, where he made enough of an impression to be taken on by Merid­ian.

After go­ing from engi­neer, to now man­ag­ing other en­gi­neers, he rel­ishes his re­spon­si­bil­ity for main­tain­ing power sta­tions like Manapouri and his in­volve­ment in de­ci­sions on fu­ture ma­jor projects.

"My team and I are ac­count­able for some of our coun­try's iconic hy­dropower as­sets, and for pro­tect­ing those as­sets for fu­ture gen­er­a­tions," he says. "That's quite a priv­i­lege. By de­fault these sta­tions are ex­traor­di­nar­ily en­vi­ron­men­tally friendly, and they are not short-term in­vest­ments. These will be around for a cen­tury or more and there is no rea­son why they won't be as ef­fi­cient and ef­fec­tive as they are to­day."

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