After a blessing from Waihopai Runaka deputy chairman Joe Wakefield, HW Richardson (HWR) chief executive Anthony Jones and transport group general manager Reece Oliver turned the first soil in the construction of HWR’s hydrogen site official.
The site is in Lake St in Clifton, just south of Invercargill, and is close to HWR’s heavy logistics hub for freight haulage.
Mr Jones said the hydrogen site was an important milestone for HWR because it was another step forward in the company’s plan to bring hydrogen to the South Island and New Zealand as a whole.
"For New Zealand, there’s a limited supply of hydrogen and this is probably no different from the first EV charger going into Auckland," he said.
"This is that first step for us building our network for future fuel."
The company had 1300 trucks on the road emitting carbon, and switching to hydrogen was it taking a step towards the community’s 2050 zero-emissions target.
"Hydrogen is a zero-emissions future fuel and we see it as the right future fuel for heavy mass and long distances."
HWR Hydrogen project manager Kerryn Hamill said the site would be HWR Hydrogen’s flagship hydrogen production site and there would also be an Allied Petroleum diesel truck stop with hydrogen fuelling available as well.
"Just 18 months ago we were dabbling in hydrogen not really sure, and we’ve created this strategy which is really going to create a really strong sustainability focus for our company and for our customers."
The site would produce about 450kg of hydrogen per day and had dual fuel technology to fuel hydrogen and diesel at the same time, at seven-minute refuel times, Ms Hamill said.
"With dual fuel we’re using hydrogen in the truck when it’s most efficient based on what the engine requires.
"But hydrogen can take trucks a lot further than diesel would."
The site would have the ability to cater for 37 trucks of which nearly 15 would be owned by HWR.
Making the site a reality over the past 18 months had presented many challenges.
"We’ve employed external parties and safety engineers from overseas and we spent a lot of time making sure that the design we’ve got is very safe and will continue to be safe for Southland.
"A large amount of our time has gone into that, especially because there are no standards for hydrogen stations just yet."
HWR aimed to have the site open next year and hoped to have a hydrogen network north as far as Gore.