Video | Agriculture | Confidence | Economy | Energy | Employment | Finance | Media | Property | RBNZ | Science | SOEs | Tax | Technology | Telecoms | Tourism | Transport | Search


More Power From The Same Water”: Mercury Mega Project Celebrates Major Milestone

23 March 2020 – A $67 million project on Mercury’s Whakamaru power station has future proofed the station and increased output by over 20% (from 100MW to around 124MW) – enough to power an additional 12,700 electric vehicles.

· $67 million investment, 12 years planning and execution including over 4 years on-site works

· the most complex project to date in Mercury’s multi-year re-investment across the Waikato Hydro System, with a quarter of a billion dollars re-invested so far

· increased output – enough to power an additional 12,700 electric vehicles

· increased ability to rapidly respond to peak demand requirements for the National Grid

“Whakamaru power station is a critical piece of infrastructure, in a pivotal position in the highly integrated cascade hydro system on the Waikato,” says Phil Gibson, GM Hydro Wholesale.

The upgrade will result in a 20% gain in the peaking capacity of the station (the ability to rapidly respond to peak demand requirements). This will become increasingly valuable as New Zealand decarbonises its economy, and the addition of intermittent renewables such as wind require complementary rapid peaking capacity provided by other renewables such as reliable hydro generation.

Whakamaru power station is located 40km north of Taupo and was commissioned in 1956. With the station reaching a stage in its life cycle where the generators and turbines required replacement, Mercury’s engineers saw opportunities to get more power more sustainably from the station.

“We’ve been thinking for over a dozen years about how to get greater efficiency and more power from the water that passes through this station. We’re very pleased with the results,” says Phil.

All four turbine units have been completely overhauled. Only one of the four had been completely opened up and refurbished in the past 60-odd years, so some parts of the machinery were touched for the first time since, a tribute to by the Kiwi women and men who originally built the station. The major components of the new installed equipment have design lives of 50 years.

“Everything about this project has been big – the timeframes, the money, planning, the size of the parts, the complexity, the risks, and the expertise of our teams,” says Phil.

There were some very big boxes delivered to site during the project: 4x 22-tonne stainless steel turbine runners, 4x100-tonne generator rotors with 176 new poles, and 4x85-tonne stators. It’s been a truly global endeavour with design and manufacture in Austria, Italy, China, Poland, Switzerland and Spain.

Despite the huge machinery involved, the project was injury free. Unit outages were scheduled over summer months to lessen impact on the market of reduced generation at the station. During the five-month installation of each unit there were up to 40 people on site, six days a week, with work crews from the local area and the South Waikato/Taupo region. A celebration is planned, including some of the original team who built the station back in the 1950s.

This milestone is part of an extensive programme to secure the operational efficiency and effectiveness of the hydro system for future generations. Ohakuri, Arapuni, Aratiatia and now Whakamaru power stations have received significant re-investment – a total of a quarter of a billion dollars so far. Next up: detailed design and manufacturing is underway for a full-scale $75m overhaul of the Karapiro power station, with hands on tools onsite from next year.

“Our multi-year reinvestment programme will secure the ultra-long-term future of the Waikato Hydro System. This will play a very important role in complementary future wind development as New Zealand continues to decarbonise its economy,” says Phil.

Watch a time lapse of the upgrade of the second Whakamaru Generator and Turbine: 8 months’ work in 30 seconds here

© Scoop Media

Business Headlines | Sci-Tech Headlines


Tiwai Point: Rio Tinto Announces Plans To Close Tiwai Point Smelter

Rio Tinto has just announced that it will wind down New Zealand Aluminium Smelters - the Tiwai Point smelter - saying the business is no longer viable. More>>


Freight: New Report On Auckland Port Relocation

The Government has released a major new report on the options for relocating the Port of Auckland’s freight operations while deferring any decision on the issue. More>>


Chartered Accountants: COVID-19 Fails To Knock Kiwi Investor Confidence, But More Disclosure Wanted

Three months of COVID-19 lockdown and investment turmoil has done little to knock confidence in New Zealand capital markets and listed companies with overall investor sentiment very similar to 2019, an investor survey held in mid June shows. However, ... More>>


Taxation: Black-Market Tobacco Sidesteps $287 Million In Excise Tax

Year-on-year increases in consumption of illicit tobacco in New Zealand have seen illegal trade swell to 11.5% of the total market. If consumed legally, illicit products would have netted the Government $287 million in excise tax during 2019. Independent ... More>>


Energy Sector: Meridian Spilled Water To Hike Electricity Prices - Authority Ruling

The Electricity Authority has found that generator Meridian Energy manipulated the power market, costing consumers about $80 million. More>>


XE Data Update: RBNZ Official Cash Rate Decision

The RBNZ will keep the Official Cash Rate (OCR) at 0.25%. T he key points in the RBNZ statement are: RBNZ keeps the OCR unchanged at 0.25% Maintain the LSAP (large scale asset purchase) at NZD$60 billion. Committee prepared to use additional monetary ... More>>


Electricity: Kiwis Ignore Promise Of Cheaper Power

Electric Kiwi and Flick Electric Co are joint winners of Canstar Blue’s award for Most Satisfied Customers | Electricity Providers From putting on an extra layer – rather than turning on a heater – to turning off lights and choosing the energy-saving ... More>>


Electricity: Transmission Pricing For A Low Carbon Future

The Electricity Authority has decided on new guidelines for transmission pricing. James Stevenson-Wallace, Chief Executive of the Electricity Authority says the new guidelines will deliver significant benefits to consumers, through lower electricity ... More>>


RNZ: Economic Activity And Business Confidence Bouncing Back

Two surveys from ANZ show business confidence and economic activity have rebounded, but uncertainty about the future remains extreme. More>>


NIWA: The Climate Record That Keeps Getting Broken

Among the multitude of New Zealand climate statistics there is one record that continues to be broken month after month. Since January 2017 there has not been one month that recorded a below average nationwide temperature, according to NIWA’s seven station ... More>>


Govt: Extended Loan Scheme Keeps Business Afloat

Small businesses are getting greater certainty about access to finance with an extension to the interest-free cashflow loan scheme to the end of the year. The Small Business Cashflow Loan Scheme has already been extended once, to 24 July. Revenue and Small ... More>>


Science: 2019 Prime Minister’s Science Prizes Announced

The 2019 Prime Minister’s Science Prizes have been announced in a digital livestream event today. The Prizes recognise the impact of science on New Zealanders’ lives, celebrate the achievements of current scientists and encourage scientists of the ... More>>


RNZ: Fuel, Alcohol Costs To Go Up From Today

The increase today in the taxes on fuel, road user charges and alcohol is being called a tone-deaf move. More>>


Stardome Observatory: Young Kiwi Astro-Photographer Shoots For The Stars

Matariki by Josh Kirkley. The stars are aligning for up-and-coming Auckland-based astro-photographer Josh Kirkley (Kāi Tahu). During lockdown, one of his images was picked up by NASA and shared on the space agency’s Instagram to its 59.2 million ... More>>

DCANZ: Time For EU To Commit To A Level Playing Field For Trade

The Dairy Companies Association of New Zealand (DCANZ) has welcomed New Zealand Trade Minister David Parker’s statement that it is unacceptable for New Zealand exporters to continue facing an ‘unlevel playing field’ in the EU. Details leaked ... More>>


New Zealand Government: Supporting Kiwi Businesses To Resolve Rent Disputes

The Government will legislate to ensure businesses that suffered as a result of the COVID-19 response will get help to resolve disputes over commercial rent issues, Justice Minister Andrew Little announced today. More>>