Ministerial Study Tour to Geothermal Installations in New Zealand
Minister of Energy, Green Technology and Water, YB Datuk Seri Panglima Dr. Maximus Johnity Ongkili led a 28-member delegation, including officials from the Ministry, Energy Commission, Sustainable Energy Development Authority, Tenaga Nasional Berhad, Sabah Electricity Sdn. Bhd. and TGE, to visit geothermal installations in New Zealand from 20 - 24 February 2014. The study tour was organised and coordinated by TGE, led by its Managing Director, Mr. Ramzi Raad.
The delegation first visited the Wairakei Geothermal Power Plant just outside Taupo. The plant, operated by Contact Energy, utilises both flash and binary technologies to produce 157MW and 14MW respectively. Mike Dunstall, General Manager - Geothermal Resources of Contact Energy briefed the delegation on the design and history of the plant before bringing the delegation on a tour of both the flash and binary power plants.
The delegation next visited the Ngatamariki Geothermal Power Plant also near Taupo. This plant, operated by Mighty River Power and commissioned in August 2013, is rated at 95MW gross and 82MW net and is the world's largest geothermal binary power plant. Greg Thompson, Ngatamariki Site Manager, gave a briefing with regards to the history of exploration of the geothermal prospect and the eventual design and construction of the plant. The group then toured the power generation facilities.
The delegation then proceeded to visit geothermal drilling rig Odinn, owned by the Iceland Drilling Company (IDC) and located at Broadlands near Taupo. TGE has recently contracted IDC to undertake drilling operations at its Apas Kiri project site and this 1300hp hydraulic rig will soon be relocated to Sabah for this purpose. IDC New Zealand Country Manager, Jakob Bjornsson and his team briefed the visitors on the technical capabilities of the rig, before bringing them in groups to go round the rig and climb to the doghouse (control room) to see the state of the art automation facilities.
On the last day of the tour, the Minister witnessed the signing of a memorandum of Understanding (MoU) between TGE and the University of Auckland, a world leader in geothermal energy exploration, research and technologies, to facilitate courses and training programs at the Geothermal Resource Centre (GRC) in Tawau being established by TGE. The GRC, being set up with Federal and State Government support, will spearhead capacity building programs for local engineers and scientists in geothermal energy, as well as provide a platform for local and foreign universities to collaborate on research activities at the Apas Kiri Geothermal Field. Mr. Ramzi Raad signed on behalf of TGE, whilst Dr. Andy Shenk signed for the University of Auckland.
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