An ambitious target to create 400 jobs attributed to direct use geothermal projects by 2025 will be helped by the development of a new role, aimed at removing barriers and speeding up investment in the geothermal industry.
The Government announced $150,000 funding last week for the project, to match a further $150,000 from Bay of Connections and industry partners, which means the Geothermal Business Development Lead role can now become a reality.
Bay of Connections chairman Doug Leeder said the combined funding was a significant boost to the work being done on a regional level to grow the Bay of Plenty economy, with geothermal opportunities identified as one of the nine action streams in the Toi Moana Bay of Plenty Economic Action Plan.
In order to progress these opportunities, the Bay of Connections identified the need for such a role to work with a range of different organisations, including industry, iwi and others, to encourage investment in direct use geothermal opportunities.
Mr Leeder said demand for direct use geothermal heat has been limited, however, the significant potential opportunities provided by geothermal require an increased focus on stimulating demand from industry and firms that use heat as a key component of their operations.
Direct use geothermal is already used in the area in industries such as timber drying, aquaculture or tourism, horticulture and milk drying.
Mr Leeder said it was expected the new role would help drive millions of dollars of investment, through projects which will in turn create a significant number of new jobs.
"The target is to have 300 direct and 100 indirect new jobs attributed to direct use geothermal projects by 2025."
Mr Leeder said the funding collaboration showed the value of the partnerships which had been formed through the development of Toi Moana Bay of Plenty Economic Action Plan, which is delivered in the region through the Bay of Connections and its supporting partners.
It is expected recruitment for the role will begin immediately.
The region's geothermal resources are used in a variety of different ways including for industrial, commercial and municipal use (pulp and paper, electricity generation, aquatic centres, horticulture etc), and domestic use (heating, swimming pools etc).
The resource also manifests itself in many significant natural geothermal features across the region which make an important contribution to the local visitor economy, as they are a valuable drawcard for residents and visitors alike, ie. Pohutu Geyser, Kuirau Park, White Island etc.
The Bay of Plenty Regional Council is responsible for ensuring the effective and efficient utilisation of the geothermal resource in order to ensure its long-term sustainability, as well as to ensure it supports economic and social development of the region, for the benefit of as many people as possible.