Full steam ahead for power sta­tion


Shut­ting down a geo­ther­mal power sta­tion is not as sim­ple as flick­ing a switch.

Taupo¯ has been host­ing an ex­tra 230 con­trac­tors for the sched­uled main­te­nance shut down at Mer­cury’s Nga Awa Pu­rua Sta­tion on Rapids Road.

The power sta­tion was shut down on Oc­to­ber 27 and all the work­ing parts checked and re­placed, if worn. It was back up and run­ning again on Novem­ber 10.

About $2mil­lion was spent on the main­te­nance work, in ad­di­tion to lost rev­enue of up to $250,000 for ev­ery day it was out of ac­tion.

Con­trac­tors poured in from Kawa­rau, Ro­torua, Toko­roa, Hamil­ton. Spe­cial­ists from Aus­tralia and Ja­pan were also brought in.

‘‘A lot of re­sources have come from out of Taupo¯ which has been great for the area,’’ Ro­tokawa Geo­ther­mal Field Man­ager, Mike Stevens said.

Shut­ting down Nga Awa Pu­rua is nec­es­sary to make sure all the equip­ment was run­ning the way it should be.

Stevens said the next planned shut will be in two years time so all the equip­ment needs to be safe to op­er­ate 24 hours a day, seven days a week for the next two years.

The power sta­tion cost $430mil­lion to build and boasts the largest sin­gle-shaft geo­ther­mal tur­bine in the world. It was com­pleted in 2010.

The shut­down of such a large piece of ma­chin­ery is com­pli­cated. The project started a year ago be­cause re­place­ment com­po­nents needed to be or­dered and built. Plan­ning for the shut­down then took about 30 weeks.

While a shut down of the power sta­tion usu­ally takes 20 days, this time it only took 15 days, al­though no short cuts were taken.

‘‘We know we need to be re­li­able for the next two years, so while the shut has come in un­der time, ev­ery­thing has been com­pleted as it should,’’ Stevens said.

‘‘Main­te­nance on site has been run­ning 24/7 on cer­tain equip­ment for the last week and a half.’’

The power sta­tion is los­ing a lot of money ev­ery minute it is not gen­er­at­ing power, but bud­geted for.

Stevens said geo­ther­mal en­ergy gen­er­a­tion is a harsh en­vi­ron­ment to work in but he be­lieves Nga Awa Pu­rua is the pre­mier geo­ther­mal plant in New Zealand. it is

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