New Zealand

New Zealand’s geothermal energy capacity at the end of 2022 is 1,037 Megawatt placing it among the top 5 countries in the world. Regarding electricity generation, New Zealand generates almost 20 % of its electricity from geothermal power with 19 active power plants. Keeping this in view, I will discuss the New Zealand government’s ambition and strategy to harness geothermal power. The biggest geothermal power plants and top operators are involved in boosting geothermal power. I will address three key issues which limit New Zealand’s ability to deploy the technology at scale before concluding
with my final viewpoint.


New Zealand Geothermal Association launched the Geoheat Action Plan 2022-2023 in January 2022, through which it plans to communicate, advocate, showcase, represent and advance geoheat. The action plan seeks to enhance the adoption of geothermal energy in industrial and commercial enterprises, particularly in the North Island locations where numerous geothermal power plants are already operational. To empower national and regional governments, policymakers, investors, and businesses to use renewable resources to their fullest potential.

Biggest Geothermal Power Plants

  • Wairakei Power Station, located in the Taupo volcanic zone, is owned and operated by Contact Energy. It was commissioned in 1958 with a 161- Megawatt capacity and expanded in 2005 with the total capacity increased to
    181 Megawatt.
  • Te Mihi Power Station, located in the Wairakei geothermal field, was developed by Contact Energy with a $483 million investment. It was commissioned in 2014, boasting 166 Megawatt of capacity.
  • Rotokawa II located in Nga Awa Pura, was developed by Mercury Energy and the Tauhara North No 2 Trust with a $308 million investment. Construction began in 2008 and began operations in 2010 with a 140-megawatt capacity.
  • Mokai geothermal power station is in Taupo, owned by Tuaropaki Power Company and operated by Mercury Energy. It was commissioned in 2000 with a 55-megawatt capacity, expanded in 2005 and 2007, current capacity is 110 Megawatt.
  • Kawerau geothermal power station is in the Bay of Plenty region, operated by Mercury Energy since 2008, with a $215 million investment. It has a capacity of 100 Megawatt.

Top Operators

  • Contact Energy, headquartered in Wellington, is in electricity generation and operates six geothermal power plants.
  • Mercury Energy, headquartered in Auckland, provides electricity, gas, and mobile phone services. It operates five geothermal power plants across the country.
  • Top Energy headquartered in Kerikeri, is engaged in electricity generation and distribution.
  • It operates two geothermal power plants across the country.
  • Eastland Energy, headquartered in Gisborne, specializes in building infrastructure such as electricity distribution, generation, and transmission networks.
  • Nova Energy, headquartered in Wellington, is an electricity utility company engaged in energy generation and retail. It operates one geothermal power plant.


  • The utilization of geothermal power can give rise to environmental concerns due to the potential release of gases such as sulfur dioxide. Although it produces low pollution levels compared to fossil fuels, it is not emission-free.
  • The second problem with building geothermal power plants is that it can trigger earthquakes due to hydraulic fracturing, the process of developing enhanced geothermal systems.
  • The third challenge is the high installation cost of geothermal power plants, as exemplified by the construction of New Zealand’s largest geothermal plants, which took place many years ago.

Final Viewpoint

In this article, I have examined the New Zealand government's approach to fostering the adoption of geothermal power and discussed the top five geothermal power plants and operators involved in the sector. I have also listed three obstacles that New Zealand needs to overcome. New Zealand ranks among the top five countries in geothermal energy capacity, but the largest geothermal power plant was built many years ago.

End Notes:

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