From waste product to power...

Methane powered turbine installed at Hanmer Springs

Hanmer Springs Thermal Pools and Spa has been granted the world’s smallest petroleum mining permit so it can turn previously wasted methane gas into electricity.

The 65kw Capstone micro turbine generator installed at Hanmer Springs Thermal Pools is expected to convert 101,000 cubic metres of methane into 305,000 kilowatt hours of electricity each year. 

That’s the equivalent of the electricity usage of 43 average kiwi homes per year.

The generator was officially launched by Conservation Minister Eugenie Sage on Friday.

The methane gas is coming from two sources…an old gas bore discovered in 2006 during the Complex’s redevelopment and a thermal deep water bore, which produces methane as a bi-product of the thermal water being pumped to the surface.

Until now the methane has either been released into the atmosphere or burnt off.

Hanmer Springs Thermal Pools and Spa General Manager Graeme Abbot says they have been working on the project to turn the methane into electricity since 2007.

“It hasn’t been a simple process, but we worked with industry experts, EECA and New Zealand Petroleum & Minerals to solve the problems and hurdles we faced. It’s allowed us to come up with an innovative solution which meets our unique circumstances.”

Technology and Innovation Manager at EECA Dinesh Chand says the team at Hanmer Springs have shown great commitment to this project, which sees new-to-New Zealand, emission-reducing technology put to work in an iconic New Zealand environment. 

"The Capstone Turbine electricity generator is proving a worthwhile and reliable investment and the situation is highly replicable for other businesses, which is a big factor for EECA's technology demonstration funding. We look for opportunities to demonstrate energy efficient equipment and systems that might be adopted more widely and this is a great solution for any business where biogas is being flared or lost to the atmosphere."

The petroleum mining permit by New Zealand Petroleum & Minerals is the latest permit issued in New Zealand and has the longest duration, expiring in 2056.

Hanmer Springs Thermal Pools and Spa has invested more than $300,000 in the project and the 305,000 kilowatt hours of electricity produced will be used in-house, providing approximately 14.5% of the Complex’s annual electricity needs.  This will result in net savings of at least $35,000 each year.

Minister Sage says “Innovative ways to capture and use methane for electricity are what New Zealand needs to lower the risks posed by climate change.”

Graeme Abbot says it’s a win win.

“There’s still further efficiencies to be made on this project. The next part we are tackling is how to recover  and reutilise the heat generated from the turbine, which we could then reuse within the Complex to further reduce our environmental footprint.”

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