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Green hydrogen network opens

Network is positioned to service 95 per cent of the North Island’s heavy-freight routes.
Posted on 24 April, 2024
Green hydrogen network opens

Hiringa Energy, along with the company’s investors and partners, has launched Australasia’s first zero-emissions green hydrogen refuelling network.

An aim of Hiringa Refuelling NZ is to help drive our country towards its goal of net-zero carbon emissions by 2050.

With 25 per cent of transport emissions coming from heavy transport despite it only making up four per cent of the fleet, it marks a major step towards decarbonising this sector.

The network, which was launched on April 23, has been established in partnership with New Zealand’s leading independent fuel supplier, the Waitomo Group, and TR Group, Australasia’s biggest heavy-vehicle fleet owner. 

The launch sees three strategic stations opening in Wiri, south Auckland, Te Rapa in Hamilton and Palmerston North. A fourth in Tauranga is progressing as part of the new Tauriko SH29 roading infrastructure. 

The green-energy network is positioned to service 95 per cent of heavy-freight routes across the North Island, including “the golden triangle” of Auckland, Hamilton and Tauranga.

With its opening, hydrogen-powered trucks can be commercially operated. The refuelling stations are powered by renewable energy and equipped with technology to enable heavy vehicles to be refuelled with green hydrogen in 10 to 20 minutes.

“Heavy transport plays a vital role in our economy, but it’s also a significant contributor to emissions,” says Andrew Clennett, chief executive officer of Hiringa. 

“As a first-of-its-kind in Australasia and one of the first networks set up globally to service heavy transport, the initiative addresses this major challenge. It provides operators with infrastructure needed to switch to zero-emissions transport in an efficient and commercially viable manner.”

Network infrastructure establishment has received support from the government via a $16 million loan, growth capital from key investors including Sir Stephen Tindall’s fund K1W1, and international investment from Mitsui & Co Ltd and Green Impact Partners alongside Hiringa Energy.

Simon Parham, chief executive officer of the Waitomo Group, says: “Green hydrogen offers a versatile, alternative solution for long-haul trucking and other heavy vehicles as New Zealand begins the switch to future fuel generation. 

“Partnering with Hiringa allows us to deliver on that vision by co-locating Hiringa’s refuelling sites on our forecourts regularly used by heavy-transport operators.”

Brendan King, group general manager of TR Group, adds: “It’s been exciting to enable this initiative by bringing fuel-cell truck technology to market.

“It unlocks a clean alternative for sectors that are difficult to electrify, where hydrogen meets the intense demands of handling long distances and heavy loads.”

King adds some “forward thinking” companies, such as NZ Post, are already on-board with more set to follow. 

“Their early adoption and willingness to introduce zero-emissions technologies to their fleets is commendable. Without this, our industry doesn’t get the learnings and proof-points to move forward at scale.”

Creating scale for hydrogen

Hyundai’s XCIENT fuel-cell truck has been deployed on commercial operations since 2023. It has notched up more than 70,000km, eliminating the need for about 29,700 litres of diesel, which represents some 80 tonnes of carbon-dioxide equivalent.

David Walsh, chief executive officer of NZ Post, says it has been a success seeing the vehicle travel more than 350km a day using slower mobile refuelling but having a refuelling network will be instrumental in using it on longer distances.

“With rapid refuelling now available, this will allow us to operate it seven days a week, 24 hours a day, with zero emissions,” he says. “We’re thrilled to see this national network come together."

Tatsuya Ishikawa, chief co-ordinating officer at Toyota New Zealand, says: “We applaud the introduction of Hiringa’s hydrogen refuelling network. 

“This is a big step forward. It means we can offer more decarbonisation products, like generators and fuel cells for trucks, making them easier to distribute and use.”