The Bay of Plenty Regional Council is responsible for managing the sustainable use of the geothermal resource in the region, including policy and regulatory controls, processing resource consent applications, monitoring and scientific research. Council’s statutory functions are set out in the Resource Management Act 1991.
The geothermal resource in the Bay of Plenty is made up of 11 geothermal systems, including the Rotorua, Tauranga and Kawerau systems, see below for map. There are protected systems like Waimangu, Rotomahana, and Whakaari, and there are also systems that may have potential for development, such as Tikitere, Taheke, and Rotomā. Most systems lie within the Taupō Volcanic Zone, which extends southwards into the Waikato region. For information on the geothermal systems managed by Waikato Regional Council, see their website.
Geothermal surface features in the Bay of Plenty region include sinter cones, mud pools, geysers, springs and hot pools. Some of the features make an important contribution to the local tourism economy, as they are a valuable drawcard for residents and visitors alike, for example Pohutu Geyser, Kuirau Park, and White Island.
The geothermal resource is recognised as an important asset for the region, offering potential to grow the region’s economy while retaining their cultural and landscape values. This includes actively extracting the heat resource, but also for non-extractive uses such as tourism and science. Geothermal systems are currently used in a variety of different ways including for industrial and commercial use (e.g. pulp and paper processing, electricity generation, aquatic centres and horticulture), and for domestic use (e.g. home heating and swimming pools).
Geothermal Work Programme
Bay of Plenty Regional Council has a geothermal programme which includes all elements of geothermal management, such as science, consents, compliance and policy.The programme focuses on coordinating Council’s work on the systems across the region, addressing immediate issues, generating a level of public awareness and working with key stakeholders and the community. Ultimately the programme is about ensuring there is a balance between current use and future development, and to ensure the future sustainability of the resource. A key focus coming up in 2016 to 2018 will be a review of existing geothermal planing provisions and the release of a new regulatory framework for the resource.
Further Information on the Geothermal Resource in the Bay of Plenty