2 Nov 2020

Green hydrogen projects: Plenty of chat but limited cash

3:46 pm on 2 November 2020

Official enthusiasm for green hydrogen has not resulted in the investment and other supports necessary to make it a commercially viable fuel.

hydrogen logo on gas stations fuel dispenser. h2 combustion Truck engine for emission free ecofriendly transport. 3d rendering

A 3D rendering of sources of renewable energy producing hydrogen energy for ecofriendly transport. Photo: 123RF

The Energy Efficiency & Conservation Authority (EECA) invests in early stage clean energy development projects, such as green hydrogen, but even those dollars have been few and far between.

Green hydrogen is a fuel produced by the electrolysis of water using renewable electricity, and has been touted for its potential to help reduce carbon emissions and achieve the net zero carbon target by 2050.

Government support for the projects has not been easy to get.

There has been plenty of enthusiasm for green hydrogen, but fledgling projects have struggled to get the investment they need.

EECA granted Ports of Auckland $250,000 for a demonstration programme, and there has been a conditional grant of $20 million for the Hiringa Energy heavy transport programme in Taranaki, which is yet to begin.

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Photo: Render of proposed station courtesy of Ports of Auckland

The authority's chief executive, Andrew Caseley, said it would be some time before there was a commercially viable green hydrogen development in New Zealand, despite billions of dollars being spent on the issue overseas.

He said green hydrogen was an expensive way to fuel a vehicle, compared with battery-powered electric vehicles.

"It will be three times more expensive currently to use renewable energy to power a hydrogen vehicle, than an electric vehicle and that's purely because of the amount of energy that's required to produce the hydrogen," he said.

The Ports of Auckland has been working on developing a green hydrogen facility in Auckland for the past two years and its sustainability manager Rosie Mercer said it had been a struggle at every turn, beginning with the resource consent process.

"There's been a lot of talk about the hydrogen, but we've actually found it quite hard to tap into some of those opportunities that the government's talking about in order to try and get some investments, and to our project up here from from government," she said.

The Green Investment Fund said it only funded commercially viable projects and not early stage development projects such as green hydrogen.

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