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2024 NZGA President Interview

Geothermal Community

Katie McLean has been President of the New Zealand Geothermal Association since late 2022, and has recently begun her second year in the role. We caught up with her for her reflections on the year that has been, and what's ahead for the NZGA.

How have you found your first year of being NZGA President?

I really value the interpersonal relationships aspect of the role. Getting to connect with and support our members is a privilege and I enjoy that I get to play a large part in this as President. My favourite moment from last year was being able to call Dr. Ed Mroczek to inform him that the Board had voted to award him NZGA Life Membership. He was absolutely thrilled and I was honoured to get to be the one to pass on the good news to him. The NZGA membership really is a wonderful community with some awesome people within it who have done so much for the industry, and it’s nice to be in the position to put the spotlight on them and help them realise how appreciated they are.

Having been on the Board for a while, and Vice-President prior to becoming President, I had a good idea of what I was stepping into when becoming President. However, with the Board shifting from an operational role to a governance role, I’ve actually found that the President position, whilst still coming with a significant workload, has been less time-consuming than I was anticipating based on what it was like in the past. This is largely thanks to NZGA’s staff, who undertake the majority of the day-to-day work of the Association, giving the Board the chance to focus on strategy and high level decisions.

What are you looking forward to within NZGA this year?

NZ Geothermal Week is absolutely going to be a highlight, as it has been since its inception in 2021. I’m excited for the focus of this year’s NZ Geothermal Week to be on direct use of geothermal, as this is a growing theme in renewable conversations. Whilst it comes as no surprise that I’m fully supportive of geothermal electricity generation [Katie is a Senior Geothermal Reservoir Engineer for Contact Energy], the focus needs to shift beyond electricity and look at the wider energy potential of the geothermal resource.

How do you see geothermal's role in both NZ's decarbonisation efforts and global efforts?

New Zealand is far ahead in its decarbonisation journey compared to most other countries due to the natural resources we have literally under our feet. Our electricity is already over 80% renewable generation, and largely this is thanks to hydro and geothermal. This means that we are ahead of the game in terms of growing our renewable portfolio within New Zealand, and have the opportunity to be world leaders within renewables technologies. An example of this is our collective carbon reinjection efforts, allowing us to reduce geothermal generation’s carbon footprint even further.

In the future I expect there will be a heavier focus on geothermal direct heat use and cascade use, as well as geothermal taking on a larger part of New Zealand’s electricity generation, with a number of new geothermal power stations and expansions in the works. We must also be mindful that there is no ‘silver bullet’ when it comes to decarbonisation, and a more sustainable future is only achievable with the full suite of renewables working alongside each other.

Any other comments to pass on to our members?

Thank you to the support from our members! It was great to see so many of you during the Board’s recent visit to New Plymouth. It was our first board meeting ever in Taranaki and we were blown away by the warm welcome there - thank you! If there are any members in regions which the Board hasn’t visited yet, then let us know if you want to host us - we’ll come to where our members want us to be!



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