Methane capture from thermal spring generates power

Hanmer Springs Thermal Pools & Spa

Project Notes

Site Owner:Hurunui District Council

Commission date:2018

System components:CR65 with Adicomp

Cogeneration capacity:65kW Power only

Fuel source:Biogas

System application:Power generation and waste to energy conversion

Key outcomes

  • Methane is recovered from ground water 
  • Fuel flexibility from the microturbine allows variable methane delivery


  • Capstone microturbines are the only technology that can run on varying gas collection flows

Hanmer Springs is a resort town in the Canterbury region of New Zealand’s South Island. It’s known for Hanmer Springs Thermal Pools and Spa, owned and operated by the Hurunui District Council. After years of trial and error, the North Canterbury pools have achieved a New Zealand first – converting waste product into power.

The team at Hanmer Springs were continually getting asked about why they were burning methane gas from the thermal water, proving to be a huge waste and at a cost to the environment. Through their work with Optimal, Hanmer springs have now mastered turning the methane gas into electricity to power the springs.

The solution that Optimal have provided for Hanmer Springs, is to send waste methane to an Adicomp compressor which removes moisture from the gas, raises the gas pressure and then sends the gas to a C65 Capstone microturbine. The microturbine is a small gas turbine that then combusts the waste gas into electricity. This solution stops 100,000 cubic metres of methane (a greenhouse gas) from being pumped into the atmosphere, which accounts for 15% of the thermal pool’s electricity use.

The team has come a long way from previously separating the methane from thermal water to then flare and burn. They are now considering an even further option to add an ‘integrated heat recovery module’ to the Capstone microturbine. This option further recovers energy from the turbine waste and converts it into heat for the site’s hot water.

Not only is the current project a New Zealand first, but it is also award winning. The Hanmer Springs Thermal Pools and Spa project received the Energy Efficiency and Conservation Authority’s 2018 award for Innovation. The award recognises projects that have achieved proven energy and emission benefits, and that have potential to inspire, make a difference, and demonstrate an ability to take a bright idea to market.

For this project to come to life,The Energy Efficiency and Conservation Authority (EECA) were also a huge part of securing the world’s smallest petroleum mining permit for the springs. The Energy Efficiency and Conservation Authority (EECA) believes the innovation could be applied elsewhere, especially where large amounts of methane are used, such as a large scale dairy farm.