How can Mercury improve the generation efficiency of the Waikato hydro scheme?

How does altering the electricity generation plan affect this efficiency?


Mercury is an electricity generator and retailer with a long heritage in renewable electricity generation.

Our Waikato Hydro Scheme is a chain of nine hydroelectric dams along the Waikato River.

The gravitational energy of the water that runs down the river from Lake Taupo and through our power stations generates around 10% of New Zealand's annual electricity generation.

Mercury continues to invest in maintaining our hydro assets, building on the legacy of those who created them over the course of nearly a century so that they contribute to the future of local communities and to New Zealand for many decades to come.

Our team of Hydro Controllers work 24/7, running 39 generating units across the nine power stations on the River to generate electricity, responding to real-time national demand for power.

This is a complex process requiring Hydro Controllers to draw on years of experience as well as input and support from other teams, to do this effectively.

Mercury is interested in investigating whether using mathematical models and optimisation algorithms can provide incremental gains in the generation efficiency of the Waikato Hydro Scheme.

There are several factors that influence generation efficiency, including:

  • Mercury's electricity generation forecast
  • The water levels in each of the dams along the river
  • Rainfall and tributary flows feeding the river
  • Design of the hydro turbines
  • Generation unit outages at power stations