Re­searchers ex­am­ine hy­dro­gen op­tions

Taranaki Daily News - - News -

Christina Per­sico

As Taranaki looks at a fu­ture be­yond oil and gas, an in­dus­try re­search group has trav­elled to Scot­land to re­search hy­dro­gen en­ergy.

New Ply­mouth District Coun­cil­lor Stacey Hitch­cock is also there, look­ing at the use of hy­dro­gen fuel in Aberdeen, an area that al­ready has a hy­dro­gen trans­port fleet.

The trip, which is cost­ing ratepay­ers $6000, will ex­plore the pos­si­bil­ity of New Ply­mouth be­com­ing a World Cities En­ergy Part­ner, help de­velop a hy­dro­gen roadmap for New Zealand, and look at cre­at­ing a civic link with Aberdeen.

As well as re­search­ing the tech­nol­ogy, Hitch­cock is also mak­ing con­nec­tions to oth­ers in the hy­dro­gen sec­tor.

‘‘We’re hear­ing the ur­gency over here,’’ she said.

‘‘The whole group is push­ing for that zero net car­bon by 2050.

‘‘This is what we need for Taranaki; this is what we need for New Zealand.’’

In Aberdeen, there are buses, cars, and road sweep­ers run­ning on hy­dro­gen.

Taranaki could be a new en­ergy hub for New Zealand, de­vel­op­ing the re­search, bring­ing in hy­dro­gen for trans­port, and ex­port­ing it, she said.

‘‘It’s about us be­ing at the ta­ble of the hy­dro­gen econ­omy and say­ing New Zealand is a part of that.

‘‘It’s not go­ing to be achieved do­ing it in iso­la­tion and try­ing to build all the tech­nol­ogy our­selves.’’

An­drew Clen­nett, owner of Hiringa En­ergy which is de­vel­op­ing zero-emis­sion hy­dro­gen fuel, said that it would form part of the so­lu­tion to the Taranaki econ­omy, but it could not re­place the full scale of the oil and gas in­dus­try.

He said there were two lay­ers to the trip: how have re­gions sim­i­lar to Taranaki made the tran­si­tion towards clean en­ergy and what tech­nol­ogy could be ap­pli­ca­ble for Taranaki.

They have also looked at wave gen­er­a­tion and tidal gen­er­a­tion to cre­ate hy­dro­gen in the Orkney Is­lands, he said.

‘‘It’s pretty amaz­ing stuff, look­ing at the tech­nol­ogy but also look­ing from a re­gional point of view. So what en­vi­ron­ment do we need to cre­ate to help the busi­nesses tran­si­tion?’’

It was a busi­ness op­por­tu­nity for Taranaki re­gard­less of the oil and gas de­ci­sion, with a lot of the skills in the oil and gas in­dus­try ap­pli­ca­ble to hy­dro­gen gen­er­a­tion, he said. ‘‘But it’s un­likely that it will fully re­place the whole labour work­force.’’

Mean­while, mayor Neil Holdom is call­ing for the govern­ment to use some of their $5.5 bil­lion sur­plus to help fund the en­ergy tran­si­tion.

‘‘New Zealand is go­ing to need multi-bil­lion dollar in­vest­ments if we are go­ing to suc­cess­fully take 60 mil­lion tonnes of car­bon a year out of our econ­omy by 2050 and still have a com­pet­i­tive econ­omy left at the end of it.’’

NPDC

Coun­cil­lor Stacey Hitch­cock is re­search­ing hy­dro­gen fuel in Aberdeen, Scot­land.

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