New Zealand’s science and innovation minister Wayne Mapp has announced that the country will join the International Partnership for Geothermal Technology (IPGT).

Mapp said: “Geothermal energy is one of our most important renewable energy resources with huge potential for growth. This recognition of our geothermal research programmes will allow our scientists to collaborate with an elite group of researchers in the USA, Australia, Switzerland and Iceland.”

The IPGT was established in 2008 to develop advanced, cost-effective geothermal energy technologies through international research cooperation.

Last year, New Zealand’s geothermal electricity generation rose by 21 per cent and accounted for 13 per cent of the country’s total electricity generation. The government said that it intends to expand geothermal energy, with three large projects planned, including Contact Energy’s 250 MW Tauhara II geothermal project being developed near Taupo on North Island. The project is scheduled to become fully operational in 2015.