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Workshop to help landowners profit from geothermal energy

Media release: 22 January 2014

Workshop to help landowners profit from geothermal energy

Our region is fortunate to have geothermal energy at our fingertips. Geothermal has the potential to boost our economy and improve profitability by providing real competitive advantage for existing businesses to expand and for new businesses to locate here.

Using geothermal energy provides businesses with an economical heating option that is clean, abundant and readily available. Potential end-uses of geothermal heat include space heating, industrial processing, horticulture, aquaculture, motel and accommodation providers, timber drying and spas.

But to get more businesses using geothermal energy, landowners and businesses need to understand how to access and utilise the geothermal potential under their properties.

To help with this knowledge a workshop on geothermal direct heat for commercial applications will be held in Rotorua on February 18 and 19.  The workshop is part of the Bay of Connections Energy Strategy project in association with Grow Rotorua, Kawerau Industrial Symbiosis and Enterprise Great Lake Taupo.

Grow Rotorua Chief Executive Officer Francis Pauwels said the workshop is a must attend event for any landowner who is thinking about accessing lower temperature, shallower geothermal energy resources or business owner who wants to use lower-cost, sustainable geothermal direct heat for their business.

“The workshop has been designed to be a “how-to” guide on geothermal energy use in direct heat applications.  It will tell landowners and business owners what they need to know to utilise geothermal potential,” he said.

Direct use refers to the use of geothermal energy in heat applications where costs can be reduced and the use of fossil fuels such as coal and gas avoided. Most processes which need the input of heat can successfully use geothermal energy.

“We have focused the workshop particularly on lower-demand, direct heat applications as this allows landowners and businesses to access geothermal energy without the high cost and risk associated with deep bore exploration typical of major geothermal power generation plants,” he said.

“The first day of the workshop covers a diverse range of speakers to provide comprehensive information.  Topics include the costs and techniques for geothermal exploration at these shallower depths, regulatory information, comparison of geothermal energy to other fuels as well as a showcase of industries that are already using geothermal direct heat,” said Mr Pauwels. Mr Pauwels said a highlight of the workshop will be the keynote speaker who lives in Klamath Falls, Oregon – a sister city of Rotorua. “We are incredibly fortunate to have an internationally acclaimed geothermal expert Dr John Lund as a keynote speaker.  John has over 35 years’ experience in direct utilisation of geothermal energy.  He will present to attendees on international experiences using direct geothermal heat and what you need to consider in the development of direct heat projects,” said Mr Pauwels.

Day two of the workshop is a field trip to visit various business operations to get a first-hand look at how geothermal direct heat is used in commercial applications,”

“The workshop concludes with a facilitated discussion with landowners to identify collective actions that could assist individual development initiatives.  The Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment will be in attendance at this session and are one of our major sponsors along with EECA and Te Puni Kōkiri,” said Mr Pauwels.

“The support from these central government agencies shows their willingness to see a valuable resource being used to help grow new and existing businesses in our region.  This workshop is the first step in helping landowners access the geothermal potential of their land,” said Mr Pauwels.


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