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Huge boost to Taupo District from Provincial Growth Fund
9 July 2019
Huge boost to Taupo District from Provincial Growth Fund
Regional Economic Development Minister Shane Jones yesterday announced two significant Provincial Growth Fund investments into entrepreneurial geothermal businesses in the Taupō District.
Geo40, a Taupō-based company employing 19 people, was awarded $15 million in funding. Geo40 has developed the technology to build and operate the world’s first commercial demonstration plant to extract silica from the geothermal fluid used for power generation, after which the geothermal fluid is reinjected back into the underground geothermal reservoir.
Taupō District Mayor David Trewavas said he was thrilled that Geo40 has been able to secure Provincial Growth Fund support.
“Geo40 is a high-tech venture and their expansion will create jobs, boost renewable electricity generation efficiencies and help commercialise a world-first in ‘green mining’. It will create permanent, high-skilled jobs locally, as well as bringing in export earnings that will have a flow on effect in the local community,” he said.
The $15 million made up of a loan and convertible note, will enable the rapid development of a full-scale commercial plant at the site of Contact’s Ohaaki geothermal operations to the north of Taupō.
“This support will create up to 70 jobs over the plant’s construction and eventually create up to 30 permanent jobs in the area,” said John Lea, Geo40 chief executive. “We will continue to work with our iwi partner, the Ngati Tahu Tribal Lands Trust, and Contact to ensure jobs and training opportunities for local tangata whenua.”
Enterprise Great Lake Taupo general manager Kylie Hawker-Green said Geo40 had developed world-first technology from their plant at Ohaaki.
“Taupo is the heart of New Zealand’s geothermal sciences and it is exciting to see such technology develop from a concept to market commercialisation. The colloidal silica that is mined from the waste geothermal fluid is a high-value specialty mineral which is internationally sought-after in a wide range of industries. We’re excited about the future for Geo40 and this innovative technology,” she said.
While in the Taupō District, Minister Jones made a second Provincial Growth Fund announcement for support for Eco Gas Limited to build a demonstration ‘biogas’ plant near Reporoa.
Eco Gas will use their $7m loan to build a full-scale demonstration biogas plant that will see energy, carbon dioxide and nutrients recovered from some of the 327,000 tonnes of food waste that goes into landfills each year in New Zealand.
The new facility will be built adjacent to T&G Global tomato operation at Broadlands near Reporoa and will take more than 20,000 tonnes of organic food waste a year from local food manufacturers to convert into biogas.
“These two developments truly put Taupo on a global stage for innovative & sustainable enviro-tech,” said Kylie. “We are committed to assisting further new ventures develop and commercialise their clean energy solutions.”