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Economy, Energy

synthetic gasoline, geothermal power plant, hydroelectric power stations, world oil prices, main islands

Electricity is generated in New Zealand by hydroelectric power stations and thermal power stations. Hydroelectricity accounts for 61 percent of the country’s total electricity generation. The remainder comes from thermal power plants, which rely on three fuel sources: geothermal steam, natural gas, and coal.

New Zealand has many hydroelectric facilities that convert the waterpower of rivers and lakes into electricity. In 1965 the power transmission systems of the two main islands were linked by submarine direct-current cables across Cook Strait. These cables send hydroelectric power from the South Island to the North Island. The main thermal power stations are located on the North Island, including a geothermal power plant in the central volcanic plateau, a gas-fueled plant in the western Taranaki region, and a coal- and gas-fueled plant south of Auckland. Electric heating in homes is supplemented in parts of the North Island by natural gas from fields in the Taranaki region.

New Zealand imports about half the petroleum it consumes. The balance comes from domestic oil fields in the Taranaki region, both onshore and offshore. Natural gas is also used to manufacture synthetic gasoline, and some motor vehicles run on forms of natural gas. Since 1973, when world oil prices rose sharply, New Zealand has made considerable efforts to reduce its dependence on imported petroleum and, more generally, its consumption of petroleum products. Measures included switching the fuel source of the thermal power stations from oil to coal and gas.



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