Origin is a leader in geothermal energy exploration and development and is currently working on geothermal projects in New Zealand, Chile and Indonesia.
Origin has exposure to significant amounts of geothermal generation and development in New Zealand through its 53.1 per cent interest in Contact Energy - one of the country’s largest producers of geothermal electricity. Contact Energy currently has 290 MW of geothermal energy in operation and a further 166 MW of capacity at the Te Mihi power station in final commissioning. Once completed, generation from the Ti Mihi power station will displace part of the existing Wairakei power station, adding a net 114 MW of clean geothermal electricity to New Zealand’s supply of renewable energy.
In Chile, Origin has a 40 per cent interest in Energía Andina S.A., (EASA) Chile's leading geothermal exploration company. EASA has established a portfolio of eight geothermal exploration projects in the Northern and Central regions of Chile. Preliminary assessment of the geothermal potential of Chile indicates a possible 16,000 MW of resource available. Chile is located on the Pacific 'Ring of Fire' and has considerable prospective geothermal hot spots, estimated to make up 60 per cent of the total Latin American geothermal resources.
In 2003, Origin became a major investor in Australian geothermal development company, Geodynamics. Separately, Origin also became Geodynamics’ project partner to investigate the geothermal potential of a number of locations in Central Australia. While neither investment led to the development of commercial geothermal generation, they demonstrate our commitment over many years to directly invest in renewable energy options for Australia.
How geothermal energy works
Geothermal power plants utilise geothermal water heated naturally by the earth. These geothermal fluids flow through heated subsurface rocks which create reservoirs of hot fluids or steam. These are extracted by production wells that bring the geothermal energy to the surface. The high pressure steam is separated and is used to drive turbine-generators for the production of electric power. The condensed fluids are re injected back into the geothermal reservoir to be reheated.