The Government will invest $150,000 in stimulating demand for geothermal heat resources in the Bay of Plenty region, Economic Development Minister Simon Bridges and Resources Minister Judith Collins announced today.
"Geothermal energy is a global industry estimated to be worth $62.8 billion by 2020," Mr Bridges said.
"Currently only 5 per cent of geothermal energy is being used in New Zealand. There is significant potential for greater use both across the Bay of Plenty and other regions in New Zealand."
The investment will be used for a Geothermal Business Development Lead to support work in stimulating demand for geothermal heat resources, including attracting investment from industry and promoting the value proposition and commercial opportunities.
"The costs of renewable geothermal energy are often comparatively cheaper than gas and coal. New Zealand could be at the forefront of this as we have a secure and renewable energy source at our fingertips," Ms Collins said
"If used for high value products, geothermal heat could add millions to the local and national economy, growing industries in timber drying, aquaculture/tourism, horticulture and milk drying."
This work is a significant action from the Start 2 Steam Workshop held in Rotorua in May and also forms part of the Toi Moana Bay of Plenty Action Plan.
The project will be led by the region with central government support from the Regional Growth Programme.
Rotorua MP Todd McClay said it offered real opportunity for sustainable geothermal heating of more Rotorua homes.
"Geothermal energy provides a unique, special experience for the $800 million Rotorua tourism industry. It provides heating for homes, and powers businesses in our region. It is a clean, inexpensive, and safe renewable energy source."
Recent reports highlighted that only 5 per cent of the region's geothermal capacity was currently being used, he said.
"Rotorua has the most active geothermal field sitting immediately below it. The Government investment will help us to better harness this heat sustainably," he said.
"Increased investment and use of geothermal energy will drive value in the local tourism, energy generation, forestry, and agriculture sectors. This will in turn create more jobs for Rotorua's people, and keep the spotlight on our most important natural wonder."