Ahuroa gas storage upgrade completed successfully

Ahuroa site and Taranaki Maunga v3
Clarus business, Flexgas completed an upgrade to its Ahuroa gas storage facility in Taranaki in October 2020. The upgrade provides greater flexibility and security of gas supply, which supports New Zealand’s growing renewable electricity generation fleet.

The increased capacity of supply from Ahuroa provides instantaneous gas supply, helping to fill the gap in meeting energy demand when the wind doesn’t blow, the sun does not shine or lake levels are low. Ultimately this expanded facility helps our Ahuroa customers to better manage energy supply and demand variability now and for years to come.

The Ahuroa upgrade project took:
  • 620 days to complete 
  • Involved 10,800 internal person-hours; and
  • 110,750 person-hours by third party contractors.
Credit to the team

Just as the project was scaling up, Covid-19 was hitting hard and the country went into lockdown. The team worked hard and still successfully completed this large and complex project during a difficult period.

To be able to deliver our largest capital project to date, without the overseas expertise that would normally be used for a project like this is a credit to the Flexgas team and our contractors and testament to the exceptional skills available in Taranaki.

Upgrade increases daily gas rates

Flexgas acquired Ahuroa from Contact Energy in October 2018. At the time it was agreed to expand Ahuroa’s injection and expansion capacity. The commissioning of three new gas compressors and gas dehydration unit in September 2020 has allowed Ahuroa to increase daily gas injection and gas extraction rates to 65 TJ per day.

“This upgrade allows a lot more gas to be produced to instantly meet the energy needs of New Zealanders when they need it most. We are proud of what this project achieves and the contribution that gas plays to support the generation of renewable electricity across New Zealand each day” Paul Goodeve, Clarus CEO.  
Gas storage will play a key role in the future

Gas storage and flexibility is vital to support the generation of renewable electricity, particularly in the winter months, over peak demand periods, and is becoming more important with the addition of new variable wind and solar generation capacity. Gas is also a relatively clean burning fuel, with much lower CO2 emissions than coal and creates virtually no local air pollution from particulates.

Flexgas has invested in this significant upgrade as gas storage will play a key role in the transition to a zero net carbon 2050.

We estimate that the expanded capacity at Ahuroa is capable of providing the same amount of energy each day as 400,000 Tesla powerwall batteries would store. However, this battery storage would cost around $7.1 billion to develop. The project cost less than 5% of this equivalent battery cost, which helps to keep a lid on rising power prices.