The use of the Kawerau geothermal field which has hot springs, seepages, steaming and hot ground, and deep bores delivering temperatures of between 250-315 degrees celcius is an intrinsic part of the unique character of the District. Geothermal systems are a clean, abundant and reliable source of renewable energy and use of geothermal energy for electrical generation or direct heat replaces more polluting resources.
The Kawerau field is one of the largest in New Zealand and in addition to power generation, the field supplies process steam for the industrial woodprocessing site which four companies share - Norske Skog Tasman, SCA Hygiene Australasia, CHH Tasman and CHH Wood Products. The steam is used for the drying of wood and the production and drying of paper and tissue products. Norske Skog Tasman is the largest user of geothermal heat for industrial use anywhere in the world.
Mighty River Power's Kawerau Power Station is a 100 megawatt geothermal power plant located just outside the township. Following its completion in July 2008 the station boosted the country's geothermal capacity by 25 percent and significantly increased local generation capacity. The plant currently meets one third of residential and industrial demand in the region and provides cost certainty to local industry.
Biomass to Energy
Bioenergy has a number of key advantages compared to other energy forms in that it is a sustainable or renewable resource producing heat, power, and liquid biofuels which have low greenhouse gas emission in comparison with fossil fuels. The relative cost of biomass based fuels will improve with any carbon tax. Energy related uses include:-
Wood chip, used in pulp and paper manufacture and widely exported, is also a good quality fuel for heat production or cogeneration.
Formed by the processing of good quality wood residues (sawdust or shavings), pellets are a high quality, energy intensive, easy to handle fuel for domestic and small commericial heating applications. Pellets are a relatively inexpensive fuel, producing heat at a cost on par with natural gas.
Bio-fuels, particularly bio-diesel derived from wood residues, are projected to make a significant contribution to fuel stocks by 2040. Kawerau's proximity to feedstock, Scion (a leading research facility in next generation biomaterials) and the Tauranga Port make it a prime location for the development of this important product stream.