My first job, after completing mechanical engineering training at University was in the Geothermal Investigations group at the Ministry of Works and Development (MWD) Head Office Power Division in Wellington. I then took a two-year central North Island opportunity working for MWD on an IEA research programme, testing a two phase power turbine at the Ohaaki Geothermal Field. Knowing nothing about geothermal energy when I first started, here I am forty years later (residing in the central North Island) working with these simply amazing geothermal energy resources New Zealand is endowed with.
I am quite pragmatic about the role of science in geothermal energy use - every piece of data is useful, you have to work out how important and how they might fit together. And so I enjoy bringing together science and engineering thinking to make the most informed decisions. Not knowing all I would really like to know, but having to make decisions anyway, is a terrific challenge to my thinking capacity. It’s a puzzle, where no one discipline can provide “the answer”, and as new information becomes available it is important to be open to “adjusting”position. This dynamic decision making is fascinating (and sometimes daunting).
I have formed great relationships with many people over four decades, where we have worked together to advance geothermal energy. I really enjoy fostering the uptake of geothermal energy around the globe, currently through the work I do with the IEA Geothermal Technology Collaboration Programme. This programme covers the complete geothermal range, from shallow low temperature geothermal through to deep supercritical, and now includes storing heat underground for later use.
It is also areal privilege to be involved in the Geothermal: The Next Generation programme, working to see if we can unlock hotter and deeper geothermal energy sources for the benefit of New Zealand.
For over two decades (1985-2007), I managed energy delivery from the Wairakei Geothermal Resource to support generation from the Wairakei Power Station.
We embarked upon work to gain management support to resource modification of the steam-field surface plant, drilling additional wells and commencing work to return geothermal water back underground through an injection programme. This work breathed fresh life into the Wairakei Plant as we were able to substantially increase the annual electrical energy production from the plant, worked on regulatory consenting to give operating permits that would see the Wairakei plant run for at least sixty eight years, and acquired permits for new facilities to be developed at Tauhara and Te Mihi. On reflection, what an amazing opportunity.
Where are you?
Barbados Airport and ITC Pozo Izquierdo, Gran Canaria, Spain.
What are you doing?
Fostering the uptake of geothermal energy at International meetings - Heading to Dominica for MFAT Start to Steam workshop and Gran Canaria.
Read more about Brian’s experience here.