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Efficiency at Meridian Energy’s Power Stations

Increasing efficiency at Meridian Energy’s power stations

Meridian Energy is looking into carrying out major works at two of its existing power stations to increase its electricity generation capacity.

Meridian Energy is investigating the viability of installing new turbine runners at Benmore power station. Similar work at Aviemore power station, completed in 2000, increased the generation capacity of the station by about 75 gigawatt hours, through making more efficient use of the water.

The viability of installing generation capacity at the Pukaki Canal Inlet Structure is also being considered by Meridian Energy.

“We are constantly looking for new, commercially viable ways to improve the efficiency and reliability of our power stations. By utilising new technologies, we are managing to produce more power with less water - ensuring we are truly optimising the precious resource we have,” says Meridian Energy spokesperson Alan Seay.

What has been described as New Zealand’s largest energy efficiency project has been taking place at the Manapouri power station. The commissioning of the second tailrace tunnel in early 2002 allows Manapouri to generate enough electricity to power an extra 64,000 homes.

“Originally, Manapouri was designed to produce 700MW, but until the second tailrace tunnel was commissioned it had never exceeded 585MW because of inefficiencies with the original tailrace design.”

Following the commissioning of the second tailrace tunnel, Meridian Energy began the Manapouri Half-Life Refurbishment Project. The programme will see major uprating of the seven generator units at the Fiordland power station, which is expected to add another 15MW to the generating capacity of each unit. Once turbine upgrades, which are part of the Half-Life Refurbishment Project, are completed in December 2005, Manapouri Power Station will be able to generate an additional 70 gigawatt hours each year.

The Manapouri Half-Life Refurbishment Project and the installation of new runners at Aviemore will provide electricity for another 14,500 homes – that would supply a town about the size of Timaru.

“The team at Meridian Energy are continuously measuring ‘water to wire’ efficiencies of all its existing plants, to identify any opportunities for efficiency gains. This is part of the commitment Meridian Energy has made to making the most of our water resource,” says Alan Seay.

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