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On-line forum sparks energy debate

Thursday, 25 March 2004

On-line forum sparks energy debate

Declining fossil fuels and their impact on future energy supplies in New Zealand is just one of the hot topics being debated on an the interactive Electricity Future Forum website

The website which was funded by Meridian Energy, was launched on March 2 to spark debate about electricity supply and demand issues facing New Zealand in the next few years.

There have been 72 submissions made on a range of topics so far – including the declining supply of fossil fuels and the alternatives available.

Meridian Energy spokesman Alan Seay said declining fossil fuel supplies was a hot topic because of the implications it has for New Zealand in finding alternative fuel sources.

“It’s a fantastic debate, people are obviously concerned about the electricity issues facing New Zealand and how to best combat them, especially the global trend in declining fossil fuels - it has drawn all sorts of opinions and views”, he said.

Liquid natural gas as an option for future electricity generation was another hot topic because of the dwindling gas supply in New Zealand, Mr Seay said.

Generating Assets Waitaki River system

The Upper Waitaki system begins at Lake Tekapo, a storage lake with about 800 GWh of storage capacity, which represents about 22 percent of the country’s hydro storage.

Water passes through the Tekapo A power station and is diverted by a purpose-built hydro canal to Tekapo B station on the shores of Lake Pukaki.

Lake Pukaki has some 1600 GWh of storage capacity – about 44 percent of New Zealand’s total. Water is drawn by canal from both Lakes Pukaki and Ohau to supply Ohau A , B and C power stations, before being discharged into Lake Benmore.

After passing through the Benmore power station, the water flows down the Waitaki River through the Aviemore and Waitaki stations.

Manapouri/Te Anau system

The combined storage of Lakes Te Anau and Manapouri is 380 GWh. The Manapouri power station lies 178m underground on the western shore of Lake Manapouri, and is accessed via a 2km road tunnel.

After passing through the station the water flows into Doubtful Sound via two 10km-long tailrace tunnels.

All of the stations are designed to be remote controlled from a control centre at Twizel.


Meridian Energy Australia Ltd owns the Southern Hydro power stations in Victoria.

The ten stations have a total generating capacity of 540MW, with about 940 GWh of output.

The company also owns hydro generation facilities at five small dams in New South Wales and Victoria, generating a total of 62 MW. Forum/2

“We want to encourage people to use the website to debate and discuss issues such as these. It’s a great opportunity for all industry players to share their opinions and information about electricity supply and demand, and they can also have their questions answered by Meridian Energy and other specialists in the industry.”

There was a number of ways to address the supply challenge but there needed to be a balance so that the social, economic and environmental goals of New Zealand could be met, Mr Seay said.


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