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Geothermal recognised in energy efficiency awards

Contributor:
Fuseworks Media
Fuseworks Media

Geothermal has come of age as a versatile and user-friendly energy source judging by some of the finalists in this year's Energy Efficiency and Conservation Authority Awards.

The EECA Awards recognise excellence and innovation in energy efficiency and renewable energy.

The 90 entries across nine categories collectively account for more than $60 million in annual energy savings, or value of energy generated.

This year, for the first time in the history of the awards, three finalists use geothermal energy as a part of their business enterprise.

SCA Hygiene Australasia, a paper and personal product manufacturer based at Kawerau, is a finalist in the Eco Insulation Large Business Award.

After switching from gas-fired boilers to direct use of geothermal steam, SCA has reduced its carbon emissions by nearly 40 percent.

Dave Crownshaw, SCA Hygiene Australasia Sustainability Manager for Operations, says with an abundance of geothermal steam in the area around the plant, the company opted to replace steam raised from natural gas to geothermal steam in September 2010.

"The change was made to reduce costs and to minimise our carbon footprint."

The steam is 'cleaned' and then used in the heart of the paper machine to help evaporate moisture in the tissue-making process.

The plant produces 60,000 tonnes of tissue product annually from its three paper machines. By switching to geothermal, SCA has reduced its annual carbon dioxide production by 22,360 tonnes.

The SCA brand is recognised globally for its leadership in sustainable and ethical business practices, so its use of geothermal energy sits comfortably within this ethos.

Another finalist is a motel in Rotorua which has tapped into geothermal fluids beneath its motel to heat more than half its 40 units, hot-tubs, and outdoor swimming pool.

Alpin Motel and Conference Centre, a finalist in the Knauf Insulation Small Business Award, draws its heat energy from a 130m-deep bore fitted with a downhole heat exchanger.

Town water is pumped through the heat exchanger suspended in the bore. Only a small amount of electricity is needed for the pump that circulates the heated water around the motel's units through radiators.

The project has seen Alpin's CO2 emissions reduce by 60 tonnes-a-year and it is saving $3000-a-month in energy costs. While there were some initial set up costs, the project will pay for itself within two or three years.

Taupo Hospital (Lakes DHB) is a finalist in the Renewable Energy Award after converting from coal-fired heating to geothermal energy.

The replacement of 320 tonnes of coal-a-year with geothermal energy from the shallow Tauhara resource saves more than $60,000-a-year in fuel costs.

As well, the hospital's annual CO2 emissions have been reduced by 700 tonnes, which has helped to improve Taupo's air quality.

Brian Carey, GNS Science's Geothermal Manager, says the three finalists highlight the applicability of geothermal energy to a wide range of industry sectors and business sizes.

"This clearly demonstrates the growing use of geothermal as a reliable and user-friendly energy source.

"At GNS Science, we are actively assisting organisations to use the geothermal energy resource and it is pleasing to see that some of those we have worked with have their efforts recognised by their inclusion as finalists in awards of this calibre."

GNS Science has developed a set of case studies showcasing the range of uses for geothermal energy, from tourism to home heating and industrial processing. For more information, visit: www.gns.cri.nz/earthenergy

The winners in each category of the EECA Awards, and the overall Supreme winner, will be announced at an event in Auckland on May 23.

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