Too Hot to Handle

This is another look at The Oyster Pool but from a bit up-stream. This fast flowing creek was almost too hot to touch, and I couldn’t imagine take a dip in the pool. The steam emanating from the pool in the background attests to its temperature. This got me thinking about geothermal power and its natural potential on New Zealand’s North Island. As it turns out, geothermal power in New Zealand is a small but significant part of the energy generation capacity of the country, providing approximately 10% of the country’s electricity!

The exploration of New Zealand’s geothermal fields has been very extensive, and by the 1980s, most fields were considered mapped, with 129 found, of which 14 are in the 70-140 °C range, 7 in the 140-220 °C range and 15 in the >220 °C range. Currently, some potential new geothermal fields are being surveyed that have no surface expression.

New Zealand’s high-temperature geothermal fields are mostly concentrated around the Taupo Volcanic Zone (which also has most of the currently operating generation capacity), in the central North Island, with another major field at Ngawha Springs. However, more systems (some of them potentially exploitable) are scattered all over the country, most of them associated with faults and other tectonic features.


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