WELLINGTON: Contact Energy is drilling a series of appraisal wells on the Tauhara geothermal field as it builds towards a final investment decision for a new power station in 2020.[the_ad id="31605"]“We will be working with Tuaropaki Trust-owned MB Century to drill four appraisal wells on the Tauhara geothermal field, which is a high quality and globally significant resource,” Chief Executive Dennis Barnes said. “A potential new geothermal power station at the foot of Tauhara Maunga is New Zealand’s cheapest and most attractive option for renewable base load electricity generation,” he said. Barnes said geothermal energy was important in the transition to a low-carbon future as it provides base load generation unlike weather dependant wind, solar or hydro generation. “Geothermal energy can also provide a low carbon supply of direct heat for industrial processes and we are working with a number of interested parties on prospective developments.” Barnes said Contact was proud of its historic links to the local Taupō community which goes back more than 60 years to the commissioning of the Wairakei geothermal power station in 1958. “Geothermal development and production is economically significant to regional New Zealand economies. This drilling investment is expected to cost approximately $30million, the vast majority of which will be spent in New Zealand.” The drilling programme will commence in August and complete in early 2020. Contact is one of New Zealand’s largest energy retailers and generators. In recent times the company has invested around $1.7 billion in building a flexible, reliable and renewable generation portfolio which is now more than 80% renewable.