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Support for Far North geothermal energy expansion

Geothermal energy will soon provide more than two thirds of the Far North’s peak winter power consumption thanks to GNS Science’s specialist expertise in planning geothermal energy developments.

Ngāwhā Geothermal Power Station. Photo: Top Energy Ltd

Ngāwhā Geothermal Power Station. Photo: Top Energy Ltd


“The team from GNS Science was instrumental in the development and delivery of the well drilling programme at Ngāwhā. Their support and responsiveness helped ensure the programme was delivered in a timely manner and our knowledge of the geothermal resource has increased significantly.”

Thomas Zink, Project Director, Ngāwhā
Expansion Project, Top Energy Ltd


The Ngāwhā Geothermal Power Station near Kaikohe, owned and operated by Top Energy, is in the midst of a $180 million expansion that will see 31.5MW of power being added to the 25MW it already produces. The new facility is expected to be operating by late 2020. 

Our role has spanned the life of the project from feasibility studies to well testing. This started with production of a numerical reservoir model that was used to assess the feasibility and impact of the proposed expansion. Then a detailed 3-dimensional model of the geothermal reservoir was used to help in the siting of the new wells, all of which were used in the new development.

Our geologists were present on the rig during the drilling programme. After the wells were drilled, we developed a test programme and analysed the results to provide estimates of their capacity. 

Electricity generated from geothermal energy will play an increasingly important role in New Zealand’s energy mix. It offers a renewable energy source that is not susceptible to climatic conditions. Consumption is expected to rise sharply in coming decades as New Zealand electrifies various sectors in moving to a low-carbon future. As the energy Crown Research Institute, we are a vital player in helping to unlock geothermal resources for New Zealand.