Stuart Lush

Generation development manager, Mighty River Power

Stuart Lush – Mighty River Power’s generation development manager – is recognised for his leadership and expertise in geothermal generation in New Zealand and overseas.

Stuart has taken charge of Mighty River Power’s geothermal projects during the past 10 years, overseeing the commissioning of over 255 MW of new geothermal capacity and a combined investment of more than $1.4 billion since 2005.

The Kawerau and Nga Awa Purua plants, commissioned in 2008 and 2010 respectively, were both completed under budget and ahead of schedule, significantly improving the commercial case and shareholder value of them.

Commissioning of the Ngatamariki geothermal power station – which will lift Mighty River Power’s base-load geothermal capacity to 40 per cent of its total annual output – is currently underway.

Stuart’s ability to build and nurture relationships with key stakeholders has been a trademark of his success. The commissioning of the 100 MW Kawerau power station was made possible thanks to the intensive dialogue Stuart and his multi-disciplinary team held with Maori land trusts, the Crown and interested community groups. These efforts paved the way for meaningful engagement around the Nga Awa Purua and Ngatamariki developments.

Key skills

And Stuart’s commercial skills were vital in the negotiation of key procurement contracts. A two-year contract with Iceland Drilling meant the company benefited from the first use in New Zealand of a next-generation, highly-automated rig.

Mighty River Power also succeeded in getting major Japanese geothermal manufacturers to return to New Zealand shores for the first time in 20 years.

Constructing Ngatamariki through an EPC arrangement with Ormat significantly reduced the construction risk to Mighty River Power. The modular nature of the Ormat design also reduced the market risk to the company by allowing the project to proceed at a smaller initial scale, while keeping open the option to add more units later.

A willingness to embrace new and evolving technologies has been another hallmark of Stuart’s success. Large-bore production and injection wells were used at Kawerau and Nga Awa Purua that reduced the total number of wells required thereby delivering significant savings.

Nga Awa Purua also houses the world’s largest single-shaft turbine. It is the first in New Zealand, and one of only a few in the world, to use triple flash technology which increased plant output by about 10 per cent.


The Energy Executive of the Year award category is sponsored by Transfield Worley.