In 1981, Wellington Hospital's Total Energy Centre was the first example in service at a hospital in New Zealand, and when designed it was the largest in the Southern Hemisphere.

The term Total Energy describes a system which maximises the energy benefits available in fuel. In the case of Wellington Hospital the principal fuel is natural gas, supplemented with diesel fuel oil which is also used as a standby fuel.

The construction of the centre was part of a large-scale redevelopment of Wellington Hospital's facilities which took place between 1959 and 1976.

On site, the fuel is used to propel a prime mover that generates electricity. Heat is recovered from the engine-jacket cooling-water circuits and used to preheat the lower temperature hot water circuits within the complex. High-grade heat is recovered from the engine exhausts and is used as a source of heat for a high temperature hot water distribution system.

The centre's feasibility and the necessary equipment could only be assessed after exhaustive evaluation of Wellington Hospital’s likely energy demands. These were assessed using a detailed computer analysis, which evaluated the effect of the local climatic conditions on each building proposed as part of the hospital’s redevelopment.

After the scheme’s viability was established, tenders were called in December 1975 for the prime movers and associated heat-recovery equipment. The equipment needed to satisfy the assessed energy demand of 8.3 megawatts (MW) daily electrical peak, while refrigeration demand was 10.12 MW and peak winter heating demand 12.31 MW.

Construction professionals

Consulting engineers: Kerslake and Partners, and Edwards Clendon and Partners.

Contractors: Fletcher Development Construction Limited and Hawker Siddeley Engineering Pty Limited.

Heritage recognition

IPENZ “Engineering to 1990” project

This item of New Zealand’s engineering heritage was recognised as part of the IPENZ “Engineering to 1990” project which the Institution organised to help celebrate the country’s sesquicentenary in 1990. A plaque was unveiled to mark the significance of this energy centre as part of the development of the nation.

More information


Mein Street, Newtown, Wellington


The Centre can only be externally viewed by the public.

Further reading

About Us - History,” Capital and Coast District Health Board.