Southland could get world’s first large-scale green hydrogen plant

Contact Energy and Meridian Energy are testing the waters with a plan to make New Zealand the world’s first large-scale producer of green hydrogen.

The electricity generation companies are now looking for potential large consumers, producers, and associated service providers of the low carbon fuel to register their interest with Southern Green Hydrogen a joint project by the electricity generation companies.

It is investigating the use of renewable energy at Tiwai Point, in Southland, to produce green hydrogen at scale, once the supply agreement with New Zealand Aluminium Smelters finishes at the end of 2024.

A market review as part of that project has concluded major international demand for green hydrogen is imminent.

It estimates global demand could increase more than seven times by 2050.

It says the renewable electricity potentially available from January 2025 presented an early opportunity to take a position in this market.

And it says the existing renewable electricity generation was likely to create a long-term cost advantage.

Closure of the Tiwai Point aluminium smelter would have flow-on effects on Southland’s labour...
It is investigating the use of renewable energy at Tiwai Point, in Southland, to produce green hydrogen at scale, once the supply agreement with New Zealand Aluminium Smelters finishes at the end of 2024. PHOTO: Gregor Richardson

Meridian Energy Chief Executive Neal Barclay said developing a "hydrogen economy" based on large-scale production in Southland could deliver significant decarbonisation, economic and energy independence benefits for New Zealand.

“Our renewable energy gives us a valuable head start and competitive edge as markets for green hydrogen develop.

"Early, large-scale production will allow us to build a domestic hydrogen supply chain and kick-start demand around the country.”

Economic benefits outlined in the report for a 600 megawatt green hydrogen export facility include a one-off addition of up to $800 million to New Zealand’s GDP and the creation of thousands of jobs in construction, as well as up to $450 million and hundreds of additional jobs on an ongoing basis.

Contact Energy CEO Mike Fuge said green hydrogen production would also support New Zealand’s transition to a 100% renewable electricity generation system.

“This can be achieved by reducing hydrogen production when the country’s hydro lakes are running low, allowing electricity to flow back into the national grid to support local homes and businesses."


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At last, some good news
The plant should be built to coincide with the smelter shutdown
A plasma furnace could be added to blast most of the South Islands waste and the countries used tyre problem to atomic size, making more hydrogen
We wouldn't need to build more transmission lines to the North Island neither, saving heeps in emissions and $
What a relief that someone is finally thinking
Who knows, it might stabilise power pricing so more renewables can be built in the north to run our EV's
Someone might even discover there is a wind resource south of Invercargill that could be exploited once the Manapouri power is used up. How lucky would that be.
Imagine, first to market and the ability to expand to meet demand
I suppose that's why they get paid the big bucks
I know it's unicorn thinking but do you think we could end up being the Norway of the south but built on hydrogen rather than oil?

The challenge is that if the private vehicle fleet is replaced with EVs it will take the entire countries current power generation capacity to charge them all. We only have spare capacity to charge 10 to 15% of the fleet currently, and that is only if charged in off peak times. It would take several thousand windmills and several thousand hectares of solar panels to make up the short fall. So, maybe the power from Manapouri would be best feed into the grid rather than be used to make Hydrogen to export.

My understanding is that the power is currently stranded in the south as we don't have the transmission capacity to get it to Picton let alone across the strait. Last article I read said it would take seven years to build.
Add to that all the new transmission lines that will need to be built world wide and there isn't the manufacturing capacity to make AC aerial let alone subsea DC.
Cars are only one part of the equation. Batteries can't power steel or cement production and they're no good for long distance or heavy weight transport.
Then again with the price of aluminium climbing like it is, they might just keep things ticking along as is.
I guess the number crunchers will sort it out.

Global hydrogen "could" increase by mythical multiples assuming the cost of shipping the hydrogen to customers doesn't offset the lower cost of electricity.

Or the power generators could simply sell the cheap power into the national grid removing the need for gas or coal generated power and just maybe providing cheap power to all New Zealanders.

And with cheaper power all sorts of current manufacturers would be more profitable and have products that would be more competitive in global markets.

It's simple - chase a pipe dream or bring cheaper, cleaner power to all immediately Tiwai closes. I know which one I want.

On the contrary, cheaper power is a pipe dream. History proves that this is never going to happen. Especially if everyone wants to charge their EV.

Brilliant. Now we just need to build the infrastructure to ensure we can move to hydrogen powered vehicles; much more sensible than polluting EVs.

I agree wholeheartedly with David, but hydrogen use for light vehicles in NZ seems to have little stated support in reports published so far. Our investment in our current vehicle stock need not be lost, as I.C.E. vehicles can be adapted to hydrogen in the meantime while the supply of fuel-celled vehicles increases. Hydrogen avoids the distinct disadvantage of having to wait in a long line to get our EV charged up, once they are taken up by the masses.

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