New Zealand has a repute for being clean and green. It isn’t entirely; no twenty-first country can be completely so. But a good deal of it is – including our power, much of which comes from hydro schemes.
The bulk of those are in the South Island, where the terrain is well suited to such systems. In the late 1960s work began on the most audacious development to date – the Upper Waitaki scheme, which produced some 58 km of canals and artificial lakes.
Some 45 million cubic metres of spoil were excavated. A whole new town, Twizel, was founded in 1968 to provide accommodation for the workers. The scale of it put the scheme up there with some of the world’s biggest and most audacious engineering works, added four power stations to the system along the Waitaki river, and was in operation by the late 1980s.
The whole Waitaki system, including two earlier stations downstream, can generate up to 1738 megawatts and, annually, produces up to 7640 gigawatt-hours of power – all cleanly from the best of all renewable sources, pure water (albeit with a little rock flour stirred into it…)
I like that idea. Do you?
Copyright © Matthew Wright 2013