New Zealand’s swift-flowing rivers dissect steep, broken country making them ideal for generating cheap hydro power.

The vast amount of energy contained in major river systems like the Waikato and the Clutha has been tapped through a series of hydro dams. The stored water is converted into electricity by moving it through penstocks into huge turbines, which generate electric current. New Zealand got an early start into the production of hydro electric power when a private station was built in 1887 for the Reefton gold mines. This West Coast town was the first place in New Zealand to enjoy public street lighting. The first government station was built at Lake Coleridge in 1914.

The South Island has the two largest power stations, Benmore and Clyde, each producing around 500 megawatts. However, as the South Island holds only one quarter of the country’s population, the surplus energy is delivered to the North Island via the ‘National Grid’ – a network of high voltage transmission lines carried on pylons and via undersea cables across Cook Strait.

Power Supply

The standard supply in New Zealand is 230-volts AC at 50 Hertz as in Europe and Australia. Most accommodation provides 110-volt AC wall sockets for electric razors but other appliances need transformers. Standard power sockets require three blade plugs. Campervans have 230-volt AC power systems, which plug into outlets at campsites. The vans often carry 12-volt DC systems as well to enable you to camp in more isolated sites.

Bus Pass New Zealand

Balancing Supply and Demand

While hydro power has continued to supply between 70 and 80% of total electricity generation in New Zealand, the reliability of the system is totally dependent on the weather. In years of partial drought, reduced inflows into the major storage lakes call for careful juggling of energy resources, usually by increasing thermal generation (starting up oil, coal, and natural gas-fired backup stations).

Alternative Energy Forms

When thermonuclear power generation was first proposed back in the 1960’s, there was a public outcry. The staunch opposition continues to this day. Attention is shifting now towards more renewable resources like wind power and solar radiation.

By | 2016-11-26T18:59:04+00:00 June 4th, 2013|New Zealand|0 Comments

About the Author:

Danny de Hek
Like most people, I have many passions, goals and dreams. As a self made business professional, my focus is helping my clients, associates and friends, build, strengthen and maintain their success. It would be fair to say I am in the full time business of building relationships and feel my purpose and skill is connecting the right people with the right people. My professional work tends to dominate my personal life, to the horror of my partner and business mentor. They both fully support me yet give me the hard truths when I need to hear this. I am always investing in my personal development to have a fulfilled work/life balance. I enjoy Target Shooting, Hiking & Mountain Biking to clear the brain and to take the guilt away when indulging at a quirky cafe for a cooked breakfast or brunch. My passion for travelling has seen me experience the world on many occasions, my next adventure will be doing the Tibet Rail Journey on the Qinghai-Tibet Railway from Lhasa to Golmud as long as they have Wi-Fi aboard ;-) I have many goals I still wish to achieve but am pretty chuffed that I have accomplished so many of these already.

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