Researchers examine hydrogen options
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.’’
Councillor Stacey Hitchcock is researching hydrogen fuel in Aberdeen, Scotland.