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Geothermal power solutions


O'Donnell Griffin projects involving geothermal power demonstrates the company's support for sustainable energy options.

As supplies of non-renewable energy sources slowly but inevitably diminish on our planet, there is increasing interest in renewable energy sources.

One example gaining particular attention is geothermal energy, created by harnessing volcanic heat from beneath the ground.

Recent projects by O’Donnell Griffin demonstrate the growing prevalence of this alternative fuel source, that can both be cleaner and more environmentally friendly than fossil fuels.

Geothermal power is particularly suited to New Zealand, sitting as it does on the Pacific Ring of Fire, a 40,000-kilometre long horseshoe-shaped chain of volcanic arcs and belts.

The first geothermal power station opened in New Zealand in 1958, but the energy source has gained greater interest in recent years as the country looks for ways to lower greenhouse gas emissions.


High-voltage effort

O’Donnell Griffin has completed all the electrical installation work on two geothermal power stations in New Zealand. In both cases, O’Donnell Griffin was contracted by Ormat Pacific.

The first was the Kawerau Geothermal Power Station, a 9.4 megawatt geothermal plant located just outside the town of Kawerau near the Bay of Plenty. The station supplies power directly to Norske Skog Paper Mill and CHH Tasman Pulp Mill, reducing their need to use power from the county’s main grid.

O’Donnell Griffin completed the electrical, instrumentation and commissioning of the geothermal station. This included the plant’s complete 11kv/400 volt power system, lowvoltage control, instrumentation and electrical services on site.

The second geothermal plant, Te Huka, is located at Taupo, about 80 kilometres south of Rotorua, and delivers some 23 megawatts to the national grid. Opened in July 2010, it is the first power station to be built on the Tauhara geothermal steam field.

Peter Nielsen, Ormat Pacific Project Manager, praised O’Donnell Griffin’s competence on the project and ability to get it completed on time. “O’Donnell Griffin’s commitment to working with Ormat to complete the Te Huka Power Station in the timeframe given, and then assisting with commissioning, was a credit to the staff and organisation,” he says.

Again, O’Donnell Griffin was responsible for electrical installation and commissioning including installing the high voltage and 400V equipment, plus the control and support cabling.

“Commissioning was co-ordinated with Israeli engineers and the station was successfully synchronised to the network on schedule,” says Peter Jackson, Operations Manager, Haden and O’Donnell Griffin New Zealand.

He says that safety was a key consideration on the project. “We had to follow site-specific requirements to comply with Contact Energy and Ormat Health and Safety (OHS) regulations, in line with Norfolk’s OHS program.”

“Te Huka was the second power station we have worked on with Ormat Pacific – and we hope to do many more,” he adds.

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