The third New Zealand Geothermal Week kicked off on Monday, with representatives from the geothermal industry converging on Taupō to talk policy, science and investment in energy production.
The week is a chance for delegates to discuss this year’s theme: Energy Transitions in Aotearoa – The Role of Geothermal.
At the opening event on Monday, Amplify CEO Rick Keehan said the economic and infrastructure impacts of Taupō's geothermal industry were huge and still growing.
“In the next four years, Contact Energy alone is investing over $1.8 billion to build and expand power stations to generate a further 300MW electricity.”
In the lead-up to the week, a series of community competitions and presentations were held throughout the Taupō Volcanic Zone, where natural geothermal features are prevalent, including Taupō, Rotorua, and Kawerau.
Among these was the Mercury Geothermal Photography Competition, whose winners were announced on Monday.
Entries were judged across three categories: The Source, The People and The Plant.
The categories invited photographers to share their best images showcasing the geothermal landscape, the people who live and work alongside geothermal taonga, and the striking features of the infrastructure that makes use of the natural energy.
The competition’s judging panel included representatives from competition sponsor Mercury, event co-hosts Amplify - the economic development agency for the Taupō District - and the New Zealand Geothermal Association, alongside Taupō-based professional photographers Abby Dance from Abby Dance Photography and Jeremy Bright from Grabb Photography.
Amplify geothermal lead Fiona Miller said there were some stunning entries that really caught the judges’ attention, both in colour and black and white.
“It was great to see these submitted from people throughout industry, schools and the local community.”
The top three images in each category received prizes, with three scooped by Mercury senior spatial analyst Candice Bardsley, who uses the artistic name Isobel Frank.
One of her winning photos showed a Mercury turbine specialist doing maintenance inside the Kawerau Geothermal Power Station.
“He’s very passionate about turbines and this was the first time in two years he’s been ‘under the hood’, hence the title A labour of love.”
She also won The Source category, taking the photo during regular early morning monitoring at Mokai Geothermal Field.
Candice placed second in The Plant category with another image of Kawerau Geothermal Power Station.