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Contact Energy and Nature's Flame turn on the geothermal heat

In New Zealand, energy utility major Contact Energy Ltd., and wood pellet producer Nature's Flame – a subsidiary of Norway-headed forest industry major Norske Skog ASA – have turned on the system that provides geothermal energy to the pellet manufacturing plant based in Taupō on New Zealand's North Island.

In New Zealand, energy utility major Contact Energy Ltd., and wood pellet producer Nature’s Flame – a subsidiary of Norway-headed forest industry major Norske Skog ASA – have completed a geothermal energy supply system that will provide 18 MW of process heat to Nature’s Flame’s wood pellet manufacturing plant in Taupō on New Zealand’s North Island (photo courtesy Contact Energy).

Contact and Nature’s Flame began construction on a new heat plant and supporting pipeline infrastructure in July 2019, and the system has now been established as fully operational. Contact Energy’s Chief Generation and Development Officer James Kilty, says the plant starting to operate is a good news story for the benefits of geothermal energy.

Contact now provides direct heat energy from our geothermal facilities to Nature’s Flame plant which dries wood fibres for wood pellet production. The wood fibre is a carbon-neutral alternative to fuels such as coal, gas, and oil. So we are helping to replace an emissions heavy energy source with an environmentally friendly alternative, all while using a renewable energy source. Partnerships like this one with Nature’s Flame are at the core of our ambition to lead the energy sector to a low-carbon future. We believe climate change is real and the greatest challenge of our time, but also our greatest opportunity. We want to be working with other commercial and industrial customers to form partnerships that help to reduce emissions for New Zealand, said James Kilty.

For Nature’s Flame, the shift to geothermal heat enables the plant to debottle pellet production capacity

We are thrilled by the outcome of this deal with Contact. With our new energy supply system getting to operational status, we are able to increase to 100 percent of capacity, creating new jobs in the Taupō region. We are now receiving 18 MW of heat continuously, which is fuelled by a low carbon renewable source, said John Goodwin, Nature’s Flame Operations Manager.

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