CLEANTECH OPPORTUNITIES and the companies chasing them
After more than 60 years in the business, New Zealanders can confidently claim to be world leaders in the design of geothermal power systems. There are now more than 30 different national and international New Zealand-based companies working away on this sector.
For example, engineering consultants Beca Geothermal Power Services, whose parent company was founded in New Zealand at the end of the First World War, has more than 2400 staff operating in 17 offices around the world. It has recently been instrumental in the installation of 240MW of geothermal generating capacity for Mighty River Power, at its Kawerau and Nga Awa Purua stations together representing a total investment of more than $640 million.
There are also a host of support services and engineering companies working alongside the big names. For instance, Kawerau-based Allied Industrial Engineering has become a go-to option for repairs, maintenance and upgrades for geothermal projects in New Zealand and elsewhere around the Pacific. Mike Allen has 35 years of experience in the sector, and is currently executive director of the Geothermal New Zealand industry group. “We have just spent almost $2 billion on new geothermal plant in New Zealand. Nobody else in the world has been doing that for the last 10 years, so we are well ahead of the market.
“We’ve been doing it since the 1970s and have a global reputation. We were involved in the first geothermal plant in Indonesia, and we have programmes there and in Kenya, the Philippines and Chile. We could do even more if we have a strong investment support behind us. Geothermal, like many renewable energy markets, is a relatively high cost for market entry so that’s always a challenge.”
The industry is currently working on expanding its worldwide role from a focus on consulting to construction and even owning and operating overseas plants with international investment partners.