Ports of Auckland will build a hydrogen production and refuelling facility at its Waitematā port in a joint project with Auckland Council, Auckland Transport and KiwiRail to also invest in hydrogen fuel cell vehicles including port equipment, buses and cars.
Electrolysis will be used to extract hydrogen from tap water on site, which is then stored ready for compatible vehicles to be refuelled in a way familiar to those who already use LPG and CNG.
Producing hydrogen from water by electrolysis is energy-intensive, but as more than 80 per cent of New Zealand’s electricity comes from renewable generation, there is a significant opportunity to produce emission-free hydrogen.
According to Ports of Auckland CEO Tony Gibson, the hydrogen technology being trialled could have many uses if proved successful.
“It could help Auckland and New Zealand towards energy self-sufficiency and our emission reduction goals,” he said
“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.”
Auckland Mayor Phil Goff concurred, pointing out that 40 per cent of the city’s emissions come from transportation and that the move to electric and hydrogen propulsion would help in “cutting back on air pollution in Auckland such as in Queen Street where carbon levels are very high”.
Partially funded by the NZ government’s Low Emission Vehicles Contestable Fund, an initial fleet of one bus and three cars powered by hydrogen fuel cells will enter service when the facility goes on-line toward the end of this year.
Mr Gibson said Ports of Auckland had a target of zero emissions by 2040, while KiwiRail’s acting CEO Todd Moyle said the state-owned operator intended to be carbon-neutral by 2050.
“While rail is an inherently sustainable form of transport with 66 percent 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.”
Other ports currently trialling hydrogen include Port of Honolulu, Port of Long Beach, Port of Los Angeles, Port of Rotterdam and Port of Valencia.