Provincial Growth Fund: Proposed waste-to-energy plant gets multimillion-dollar loan

Minister for Regional Economic Development, New Zealand First MP Shane Jones.
Minister for Regional Economic Development, New Zealand First MP Shane Jones. Photo credit: Newshub

A proposed full-scale biogas plant in the North Island, capable of turning waste into energy, will receive a $7 million loan from the Government. 

Shane Jones, the Minister for Regional Economic Development, said Eco Gas will receive the loan, with another investment of $15 million going towards a proposed geothermal facility near Taupo. 

The proposed Reporoa Organic Waste Recovery Facility will be built on two hectares of land situated in the Rotorua District and Waikato region. 

The land owners, T&G Global (formerly Turners and Growers) will purchase the renewable energy from Eco Gas and also supply its own organic wastes. 

"The facility will take more than 20,000 tonnes of organic food waste a year from major local food manufacturers such as dairy factories, commercial bakeries, cool stores, milk sheds and fruit grading facilities to convert into biogas," Jones said. 

"If it proves commercially successful, it has the potential to act as catalyst for others being set up in regions nationwide."

The investment follows the announcement last week that $40 million from the $3 billion Provincial Growth Fund (PGF) will be allocated to fund projects that "convert waste".  

The PGF fund will also cough up a $15 million loan for New Zealand company Geo40's proposed large scale extraction plant at the Ohaaki geothermal site near Taupo. 

It's understood about $5 million of that loan will convert into shares in Geo40 after an upcoming initial public offering (IPO), expected to happen in November. 

The company's chief executive John Lea told NZME it was weighing up whether it would list on the Australian ASX sharemarket or New Zealand's NZX - or even a dual listing. 

That $5 million "convertible loan" would convert into shares once the company's floated on the stock exchange it chooses. It means the Government would have that $5 million in shares after the IPO. 

Jones claimed up to 70 jobs will be created during the construction of the plant, with up to 30 full-time roles created once its planned expansion is fully operational. 

Geo40's technology enables silica to be extracted from fluids that have been used to generate electricity. Once the silica is extracted, the geothermal water is returned. 

The extracted silica can then be exported for use in products overseas, such as paint, concrete and paper making.

The new plant will be seven times bigger than the commercial demonstration silica removal plant in Ohaaki, north of Taupo.