Construction of New Zealand’s first high-capacity green H2 refueling station starts in Palmerston North this week.
The site, adjacent to Palmerston North Airport, is the first of four H2 refueling stations to be developed by innovative Kiwi energy companies Hiringa Energy and Waitomo Group.
The partners are building New Zealand’s first nationwide H2 refueling network. Andrew Clennett, CEO of Hiringa Energy, said this is one of the first refueling networks for heavy transport in the world.
Financial backing for the project has been provided through investment from Hiringa’s partners, Mitsui and Co (Asia-Pacific), Government funding from EECA and the COVID-19 Recovery Fund, and growth capital from key investors including Sir Stephen Tindall’s K One W One and international funders.
Waitomo Group is self-funding its investment in the project because the kiwi business sees H2 as an important step in the transition to lower emission fuels.
Waitomo Group Managing Director Jimmy Ormsby said breaking ground at the Palmerston North airport station marks a major milestone for the partnership.
“What began as a discussion between two innovative, future-focused Kiwi companies about developing H2 on our existing and new Waitomo Fuel Stops, is now becoming a reality for future Kiwi generations,” Mr. Ormsby said.
“Seeing this vision come to life is particularly poignant for me as the third-generation owner of Waitomo, given Waitomo celebrates its 75th anniversary this year. What a way to cement in the transition to a low-emissions fuel future for the fourth generation.”
Mr Clennett said heavy transport makes up only 4% of New Zealand’s vehicles, but accounts for more than 25% of our total vehicle emissions.
“Green H2 is the key technology that will allow these fleets to stay on the road. It is a mass-market, clean energy solution that can have a real impact on reducing our transport emissions,” Mr Clennett said.
“Adding low-emission alternative fuel solutions to our network is a no-brainer. We want to leave a legacy for the next generation of Ormsby’s to continue in our footsteps. The exciting opportunities that green H2 technology offers allows us to deliver on that,” Mr Ormsby said.
Specialist H2 equipment for the station has been sourced from Europe. The station will be built next to a Waitomo Group Fuel Stop, servicing petrol and diesel customers. Once operational, H2-powered heavy transport vehicles such as trucks and buses will be able to refuel at the station in similar time to what they are used to.
Mr. Clennett said the Palmerston North station will help cement Manawatū’s position as a key logistics hub as transport companies looked for greener fuel alternatives. The partners have been grateful for the help of both the Central Economic Development Agency (CEDA) and the Palmerston City Council.
The partners say another three H2 refueling stations are due to begin construction later this year, in Hamilton, Tauriko and Auckland, creating a network servicing more than 95% of New Zealand’s North Island heavy freight routes.
More than NZ$50 MM has been invested in the first phase of the project and detailed engineering and compliance work has been completed. Resource consent has been granted for both the Palmerston North and Hamilton sites and applications are in for the Tauriko and Auckland sites.
Expansion of the refueling network into the South Island will begin in 2023, with 24 high-capacity refueling stations due to come online across New Zealand in the next 4-5 years to support a growing fleet of H2-powered vehicles.
An initial fleet of 20 zero-emission Hyzon H2-powered trucks to support the network has been purchased by TR Group. Built to meet New Zealand regulations and the demanding road conditions, the trucks will be capable of over 600km of range between refueling stops.
Hyundai New Zealand is bringing five H2 fuel-cell Xcient heavy-duty trucks to New Zealand, with the second arriving soon. Both Hyzon and Hyundai have received support from EECA funding.