The opportunity for large scale hydrogen production in New Zealand for both domestic use and export is both real and achievable, says Chief Executive of the New Zealand Hydrogen Association, Dr. Linda Wright, but cautions it requires a long-term view and commitment.
Wright says since the announcement of the closure of Tiwai Point Aluminium Smelter, she has received a large number of enquiries from a wide range of national and international parties interested in the prospect of using the smelter’s electricity supply to create a large-scale hydrogen production facility during the next three to five-year period.
“We now have before us a once-in-a-intergenerational opportunity to be a global leader as the world seeks to advance the delivery of hydrogen infrastructure for use across energy systems,” Wright said.
“The availability of such a significant amount of renewable electricity that the smelter closure would liberate, not only presents an undoubted opportunity for New Zealand, but also a very real possibility for the Southland region to become a green hydrogen export location of international significance.”
“Green hydrogen will play an important global role in achieving an integrated low emission energy future. Hydrogen is an energy dense vector that can be used to transport the stranded electricity from New Zealand’s southern-most hydro-electric dams, to wherever we need it, whenever we need it.”
Wright pointed out that New Zealand already has existing hydrogen production expertise.
“We have been producing thousands of tonnes of hydrogen annually for several decades at some of our largest industrial facilities that form the backbone of our economy. We also transport it on our roads safely without incident,” she said.
Wright said the desire to decarbonise economies has led not only to an unprecedented global investment in hydrogen technology, but also in an increasing awareness of New Zealand’s abundant renewable energy resources, particularly from some of our populace Asian trading partners, who will struggle to produce enough of their own renewable energy to meaningfully reduce emissions.
“Japan, South Korea and Singapore stand out in particular, and the New Zealand Hydrogen Association has been in trade discussions with both private sector and government organisations in those countries. They are ready-to-go in their commitment to hydrogen,” Wright said. “Have no doubt the export potential is there and real.”