28 Jun 2020

International investor partners with New Zealand hydrogen company

2:01 pm on 28 June 2020

Taranaki hydrogen company, Hiringa Energy, and global trading and investment enterprise, Mitsui & Co have signed a strategic alliance to jointly pursue commercial hydrogen-related projects in New Zealand.

Kapuni gas plant in South Taranki

Kapuni gas plant in south Taranaki. Photo: RNZ / Robin Martin

Through the deal, Mitsui will become a partner in projects including the $50 million joint venture between Hiringa and Ballance Agri-Nutrients and Hiringa's nationwide hydrogen refuelling network, which is due to come online in 2021.

Hiringa chairperson Cathy Clennett said Mitsui was a great fit for the New Zealand hydrogen start-up.

"Mitsui is a natural partner for Hiringa, having already made significant energy investments in New Zealand including cleantech company LanzaTech, and having considerable experience in large scale energy development and investment.

"Mitsui brings expertise, capital and international connections, including the capability to market hydrogen internationally, and compliments the partnerships we have been forming in New Zealand to develop the supply chain and market for green hydrogen."

Clennett was, however, unable to reveal how much Mitsui would be investing.

She said final investment decisions in the various projects would be made when all parties had completed due diligence.

Both companies were working towards a common goal of creating a viable domestic hydrogen economy and export opportunities.

The alliance builds on the New Zealand government's $19.9 million investment in Hiringa's joint venture with Ballance Agri-Nutrients - a $50m project which aims to create green hydrogen at Ballance's Kapuni plant in South Taranaki - and support from Hiringa seed investors such as Sir Stephen Tindall via his investment company K One W One.

Hiringa chief executive Andrew Clennett said strong partnership with Asian and Pacific neighbours would be increasingly important for

the post Covid-19 economic recovery and growth, and leverage New Zealand's potential for renewable energy at large scale.

Mitsui divisional operating officer of infrastructure and energy Kaoru Umehara said the alliance aligned with Mitsui's global focus on developing next generation energy solutions as a part of the goal to transition to a low-carbon future.

"As the world emerges from a dramatic upheaval, hydrogen could resolve a host of pressing global issues such as security of energy supplies and greenhouse gas emissions."

Umehara said Mitsui looked forward to working with Hiringa.

The New Zealand and Japanese governments signed a Memorandum of Cooperation on hydrogen in 2018.

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