Ports of Auckland is to build a hydrogen production and refuelling facility at its Waitematā port.
According to the port, it will fund the construction of a facility which will produce hydrogen from tap water using electrolysis. Demonstration vehicles will be able to fill up with hydrogen which is used in the fuel cell to generate electricity. The only by-product of the process is water.
The facility is planned to be operational by the end of 2019.
“We have an ambitious target to be a zero-emission port by 2040,” said Tony Gibson, chief executive of Ports of Auckland. “In order to meet that target we need a new renewable and resilient power source for heavy equipment like tugs and straddle carriers, which are difficult to power with batteries. Hydrogen could be the solution for us as it can be produced and stored on site, allows rapid refuelling and provides greater range than batteries.”
As part of the project, Ports of Auckland will be working with partners Auckland Council, KiwiRail and Auckland Transport to invest in hydrogen fuel cell vehicles including port equipment, buses and cars.
“If this trial is successful, the technology would have a very wide application,” said Gibson. “It could help Auckland and New Zealand towards energy self-sufficiency and our emission reduction goals. Trucks, trains and ferries could also run on hydrogen – something which is already being done overseas – which would be a significant benefit for the community. Hydrogen-powered vehicles are quieter and emit nothing more than clean water.”
The partners will provide technical support and will purchase hydrogen fuel cell vehicles for the project. Global hydrogen expert Arup will also help support the project through the development, design and delivery phases.
“I welcome this trial,” said Phil Goff, mayor of Auckland. “It is a first for New Zealand and shows Auckland’s desire to lead on climate change action and meet our ambitious emissions reduction targets. With 40% of emissions in Auckland coming from our transport system, alternative energy sources to power vehicles, such as electric and hydrogen, are critical to meeting the target of global warming to 1.5 degrees.”
Todd Moyle, acting CEO of KiwiRail, said that KiwiRail is committed to a sustainable future and has set a goal to be carbon neutral by 2050.
“While rail is an inherently sustainable form of transport with 66% fewer carbon emissions than heavy road freight, new fuel sources like hydrogen have enormous potential for the future of transport in New Zealand,” he said. “Just weeks ago, two hydrogen-powered trains with a range of 1000km per tank began operating commercial services in Germany. If successful with passengers, there is no reason why the next development could not be hydrogen-powered freight trains. Joining forces with Ports of Auckland in this project will allow us to explore how KiwiRail could use this new technology as we deliver stronger connections for New Zealand.”
The project is currently in the planning phase and is about to undergo stakeholder engagement before the application for resource consent in early 2019, according to Ports of Auckland.