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Climate Change Commission Advice to Government - Ināia tonu nei: a low emissions future for Aotearoa

Written by: Dion Cowley

Project Development and Public Sector Lead at Hiringa Energy

After being a part of the national consultation process, we’re pleased to see the final advice from the Climate Change Commission and agree with its view that tackling transport emissions is a priority if we are to make our target of net zero by 2050.

With hydrogen fuel cell electric vehicles using the same electric drive train as battery electric vehicles and also being powered by renewable electricity, it’s great to see that the Climate Change Commission now include both in their overarching definition of an electric vehicle. This is helpful given electrification is understood as a critical aspect of Aotearoa’s decarbonization. We are especially pleased to see the recommendation that the government should encourage the production and use of low emission fuels such as hydrogen, now.

Looking under the hood on this, we see New Zealand’s vehicle fleet being a combination of technologies, with the best tech being applied in the most appropriate place. Battery electric vehicles make sense for urban use and we agree with the Climate Change Commission when they say:

  1. “Even if Aotearoa rapidly converts to EVs, biofuels or hydrogen will likely still be needed for ships, trains, aircraft, long-distance trucks and some off-road vehicles”; and,

  2. “Hydrogen fuel cell trucks offer advantages such as being faster to refuel, travelling longer distances and not having heavy batteries that take the place of freight”.

The nationwide green hydrogen refuelling network that Hiringa is rolling out next year with our partner Waitomo, along with the Hyzon trucks heading towards our shores will crack the “What comes first? The chicken or the egg?” scenario, apparent when rolling out new fuel technology and will create the initial momentum needed to begin decarbonising our heavy transport market.

Hiringa fully supports the Commission’s recommendation to develop a National Low-Emissions Freight Strategy and we look forward to feeding in our learnings from our heavy freight programme.

Our joint venture project with Ballance Agri-Nutrients to build a wind farm to provide renewable electricity and create green hydrogen for their fertilizer plant in Kapuni, South Taranaki is planned for operation late 2022. This project will demonstrate the decarbonisation of a ‘hard-to-treat’ industrial process while producing green hydrogen at scale and therefore bringing down production costs for the benefit of other green hydrogen users.

Both our heavy freight programme and industrial scale green hydrogen production project are setting the wheels in motion for ramping up New Zealand’s green hydrogen economy in the short to medium term.

Ināia tonu nei (the time is now) for green hydrogen to plant its feet in Aotearoa, demonstrate value through real world applications and play an increasing role in decarbonising the ‘hard-to-treat’ sectors of our economy.

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