- A proposal to build the world’s first large-scale green hydrogen plant in Southland has been met with strong interest from domestic and international businesses.
Meridian and Contact Energy’s Southern Green Hydrogen project has attracted more than 80 responses to its registration of interest process. There is a strong focus on using green hydrogen produced from renewable energy for export and also to decarbonise carbon-intensive sectors including heavy transport, aviation, shipping and agriculture in New Zealand.
Meridian Chief Executive Neal Barclay says the diversity of responses shows there is a huge appetite for green hydrogen to replace fossil fuels throughout the economy.
“Green hydrogen has the potential to abate Aotearoa’s long-life greenhouse gas emissions by more than 20 per cent. It’s exciting to see so much interest in domestic applications alongside the export opportunities.
“This interest suggests that the domestic uptake of hydrogen as a clean fuel could happen sooner and faster than we expected.”
Contact CEO Mike Fuge says the fact that international companies were looking at business opportunities in New Zealand’s domestic market, in addition to international opportunities was very promising.
“New Zealand has a stable political environment and a realistic and rising price on carbon. These are good incentives for people to dial down fossil fuels and convert to cleaner alternatives, so the fundamentals are there for hydrogen to take on fossil fuels in a range of sectors.”
A large number of responses were also received from engineering and technology companies interested in developing the infrastructure needed to produce and transport hydrogen from Southland. Barclay says the economic benefits of developing a hydrogen economy will be widespread and support growth and employment in the regions as well as urban areas.
Mr Fuge said hydrogen innovation was an area where Kiwi businesses and scientists were working out how to produce clean fuel more efficiently and cost-effectively. “We’re already exporting some of this technology, and the opportunities are set to grow if New Zealand seizes the opportunity to become a global leader in green hydrogen.”
The next phase of the Southern Green Hydrogen project is a series of more formal discussions with shortlisted parties, followed by a request for proposal process to determine key partners and build out the wider supply chain and end-use customers. This process is underway and expected to be completed by March 2022.