World's biggest geothermal turbine crawls into Taupo

30 giugno 2009
World's biggest geothermal turbine crawls into Taupo

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The massive equipment which is at the heart of the new Nga Awa Purua Geothermal Power Station, north east of Taupo, has inched its way through forest roads at night to its new home.

The arrival of the generator, turbine and condenser at the power station site marks a key milestone in the construction process. As key parts of the power station’s ‘engine room’ – the equipment that converts the geothermal steam to electricity – their arrival signals the start of the plant installation phase.

Mighty River Power, which in conjunction with the Tauhara North No 2 Trust is developing the $450 million Nga Awa Purua station, says the turbine is the largest single shaft geothermal steam turbine in the world. 

The turbine, generator and condenser shipped from Yokohama, in Japan, arrived into the Port of Tauranga on March 30 2009.  The equipment was moved via state highways and through the Kaingaroa Forestry roads to the site, on specialised transporters.  The painstaking journey took three days.

Mighty River Power’s Nga Awa Purua project manager, Paul Ware, says the generator represents the single biggest load, weighing in at 177 tonnes. This compares with a logging truck and trailer which has a maximum weight on the road of 45.5 tonnes.  

“Careful planning of the route was required to avoid a number of the bridges on the state highways that are not capable of supporting such a load,” says Mr Ware. 

The total weight of the equipment arriving is 900 tonnes.  Mr Ware says that while this is the largest delivery, there are more than 65 shipments of special power station equipment coming from 12 countries.

Arriving less spectacularly by container from the USA in kitset form are the 612,795 parts associated with the cooling tower structure. These will be assembled over the next six months. 

Installation of the generator within the building will now begin. This is a two to three day mission in its own right and involves jacking the generator some 10m above ground level on a specially constructed frame.

There are now more than 300 workers on site – more than half from the Bay of Plenty – with the workforce expected to peak at about 400 in the next few months.  

Mr Ware says a number who worked on the Kawarau Geothermal Power Station project are at Nga Awa Purua and quite a few have relocated their families to Taupo.

On completion, Nga Awa Purua will bring the total generation on the Rotokawa geothermal field to around 165MW.   It will be the second largest geothermal station in New Zealand, satisfying nearly three percent of New Zealand’s annual electricity needs, providing electricity for about 140,000 homes.

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