NZ’s International Earth Sciences (IESE) to take advantage of Japan’s demand for geothermal energy

Auckland company International Earth Sciences (IESE) is looking into the increasing demand from Japan for geothermal energy.

Last month, Japan Oil, Gas and Metals National Corporation (JOGMEC) signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with the Crown research institute GNS Science.

The agreement will be the basis for greater cooperation between the two countries in geothermal energy.

IESE chief executive Hylton White says its an important step for the New Zealand industry.

“The MOU signed between GNS Science and JOGMEC should provide private sector companies like ourselves with further access to the Japanese geothermal industry and we look forward to working with them going forward on opportunities like this.”

The Auckland based company specialises in geothermal and micro-seismic analysis and despite the fact it has been going for less than a year it has already secured multi-million dollar contracts in Mexico, Japan, Germany, Indonesia and New Zealand.

IESE chairman Ralf Muller says the company has been involved in two projects in Japan this year. This includes a joint research and development project with the Kyoto University Department of Civil and Earth Resources Engineering in Sanin Kaigan National Park.

“We are only in the early stages of exploration, but that’s an ongoing project for us.”

While senior scientists from IESE spent ten days in the country in April working with GERD (Geothermal Energy Research and Development) and JOGMEC at the Okuaizu geothermal field in the Fukushima Prefecture.

The company supplied seismic testing equipment to the Japanese company and supervised its installation. The authorities are looking at improving the efficiency of the existing Okuaizu geothermal field.

Since the 2011 Fukushima Daiichi nuclear disaster in 2011 Japan has been looking at alternative energy sources, including geothermal energy. This is due to the country’s abundance of volcanic activity.

Japan has one of the largest untapped reserves of geothermal energy in the world, but up to 80 % of these sites are in national parks and protected hot springs and until recently regulations have made it difficult to develop new projects.

But with the Japanese government making it easier to tap into its geothermal reserves it has huge potential for company’s like IESE.

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