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Published: 2013-07-12 00:00:00

Waikato Regional Council is next week hosting a visit by a Government minister from Vanuatu, which wants to tap into the council’s internationally renowned geothermal policy expertise as it seeks to develop its own geothermal energy potential.

Vanuatu’s Energy Minister Thomas Laken will be accompanied by three senior advisers and five land owners.

Vanuatu is keen to harness its own geothermal energy resources for electricity so as to reduce its dependence on diesel and to provide better access to electricity for homes and businesses.

With some 70 per cent of New Zealand’s geothermal energy resources in the Waikato, the council has extensive experience in policy development and resource consent issues related to geothermal energy.

For example, the Wairakei, Rotokawa, Mokai, Ohaaki and Ngatamariki geothermal energy fields have been developed within the region. The council’s geothermal work has been recognized with a World Energy Globe Award, while officials from Chile, Indonesia, Japan, Iceland, Papua-New Guinea, Mexico and Switzerland have visited the Waikato to get council advice.

Principal policy advisor Blair Dickie said the council welcomed the opportunity to help a neighbouring nation such as Vanuatu.

“We can help them with advice on how to develop robust policy that helps give developers certainty whilst ensuring that appropriate environmental safeguards are in place.

“Getting things right will help contribute to improving living standards in Vanuatu while at the same time reducing carbon dioxide emissions from using diesel and protecting the environment generally in what is a significant tourist destination.”