Ports of Auckland to build Auckland‘s first hydrogen production and refuelling facility

4 MinutesBy NZ Trucking magazineDecember 4, 2018

In a first for Auckland, Ports of Auckland has committed to build a hydrogen production and refuelling facility at its Waitemata port. The company, and project partners Auckland Council, Auckland Transport and KiwiRail, will invest in hydrogen fuel cell vehicles including port equipment, buses and cars as part of the project.

“We have an ambitious target to be a zero emission port by 2040,” said POAL chief executive Tony Gibson. “In order to meet that target we need a new renewable and resilient power source for heavy equipment like tugs and straddle carriers, which are difficult to power with batteries. Hydrogen could be the solution for us as it can be produced and stored on site, allows rapid refuelling, and provides greater range than batteries.”

POAL will fund the construction of a facility that will produce hydrogen from tap water. The process uses electrolysis to split water into hydrogen (which is then stored for later use) and oxygen, which is released into the air. Demonstration vehicles will be able to fill up with hydrogen at the facility, which will be just like filling up a car with CNG or LPG. Hydrogen is used in the fuel cell to create electricity that powers the car. The only by-product of the process is water.

“If this trial is successful”, said Gibson, “the technology would have a very wide application. It could help Auckland and New Zealand towards energy self-sufficiency and our emission reduction goals. 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.”

The project partners will provide technical support and will purchase hydrogen fuel cell vehicles for the project. Global hydrogen expert Arup is also helping support this project through the development, design and delivery phases.

Auckland Council‘s chief executive Stephen Town said the council was proud to collaborate on this innovative hydrogen project – a first for New Zealand.

“It is important for organisations like ours, as signatories to the Climate Leaders Coalition, to continue leading on climate change action; it‘s also important for us to push the boundaries with ambitious projects that demonstrate leadership here in Auckland. Trialling new technology to reduce emissions and signalling a smarter economic future is important for our city‘s people, places and prosperity.”

KiwiRail acting CEO Todd Moyle said while rail was 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.

“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.

“Joining forces with Ports of Auckland in this project will allow us to explore how KiwiRail could use this new technology as we deliver stronger connections for New Zealand.”

The project is currently in the planning phase, and POAL is about to start stakeholder engagement before applying for resource consent in early 2019. The facility is planned to be operational by the end of 2019.

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