“A Vision for Hydrogen in New Zealand”


This is a submission to the above ‘green’ paper.

Compressed Hydrogen will be an important energy store but only when it is manufactured cleanly, therefore I recommend that you consider the following oversights in this plan.

Page 11 – “While hydrogen produced from fossil fuels and industrial processes (brown, blue and grey) may play a role in the transition of New Zealand’s regions and existing industries”.

It has already been established that gas is not a transition fuel. Taranaki is already covered with abandoned wells. They need to be closely monitored for fugitive methane emissions in perpetuity. The industry takes no responsibilty for doing that, or for any remedial work in fixing leaks as they happen.

Page 12 – “New Zealand can produce some of the cleanest green hydrogen in the world, and potentially receive a premium for it in international markets. This is a strategic advantage our Government wishes to explore.”

It can’t. The color coding of hydrogen processes do not exist on a continuum. It is either green or it isn’t. Aotearoa can not put a premium on bottled sunlight. There is no strategic market to explore because green Hydrogen bears a storage and shipping cost and can be created where-ever there is sunlight or wind.

Page 24 (graph)

Note that the dirty (CO2 capture) projects are forty times greater than green (Electrolytic hydrogen) projects. And we know CO2 capture is not proven at scale and may never be.

Page 25 – “In the medium term, if production costs fall and carbon prices rise, then hydrogen will become more cost-competitive with natural gas and liquid fuels.”

This line exists suggests a cost in the real price of carbon is not being anticipated. Surely a paper preparing to address climate change would assume a price on carbon.

Page 36 – The ‘integrated energy system’ 

This actually proposes using coal (another abundant fossil fuel in Aotearoa) to create hydrogen.

Page 37- suggesting the hydrogen will then be used to create electricity using existing Peaker plants.

There is no way those plants will be powered by green hydrogen (it would treble the cost of electricity with no gain) so their inclusion in this chart is soley for the benefit of more dirty hydrogen.

Page 40 – “There is potential for CCS to be used to capture most of the carbon dioxide produced during this reformation process, should it prove technically and financially viable.”

That statement simply acknowledges that the technology is not currently available and so deserves no place in a document such as this. You may as well include time travel.

Page 50 (chart) 

This suggests that EV passenger cars are not available when clearly they are and ranges of 400km are already common. It suggests batteries will not be used in buses when they are already on our streets. It completely disregards the role of electrified rail when that has always accounted for the lions share of zero emission transport. By ignoring the place of overhead wires it draws a picture with no acknowledgement for the low emisson transport solutions that already carry tens of thousands of passengers a day in this country.

Page 51 (chart) 

There are countless thousands of electric trains in the world. And how many run on hydrogen? Two. Maritime and Aviation, while perfect candidates for Hydrogen, are still in the experimental stage. So are we suggesting an investment in a fuel supply that no one has much use for yet? Why are we not instead planning to work on technologies that meet an existing demand?

Page 66 – This discussion around repurposing the existing ‘11,600 km of intermediate, medium and low-pressure networks’ implies that the pipes providing gas to thousands of houses may be repurposed to contain hydrogen. 

As domestic gas is simply an alternative to electricity for heat this also contains no case for green hydrogen: the energy loss involved in creating hydrogen from electricity to send to a home for heating means the resulting fuel will be at east three times the price of simply not using it. In fact provision of green hydrogen to any location where electrity is already available is pointless for the same reason. The only reason it could possibly considered here is that the authors are still thinking about burning gas or coal.

Page 72 notes that ‘Australia has carried out the first proof of concept export of green hydrogen to Japan’. 

South Korea and Japan clearly need to import stored energy and will likely be buyers on an international green hydrogen market. But in this market how could New Zealand compete with Australia, a country with better proximity, more space, and more sunlight/

Page 73 — ‘At present there are no identifiable established international supply chains, logistics or infrastructure established, and these may involve significant costs and risks.’ 

Why are we putting so much focus on this when there are established markets that better deserve our attention?

This paper appears to have been written by an industry looking to open avenues that will lock in more dependence on fossil fuels. It does not recognise the real cost of green hydrogen, nor does it consider the ubiquity of green energy resources around the world.

This submission recognises the nation’s requirement to transition to green Hydrogen as a form of energy storage where there are no better alternatives. But it asks for more consideration of the alternatives, including more work on public transport, cycle lanes, faster trains for transport and freight, better use of known technologies to improve the responsiveness of electricity networks. the storage of power and the logistics of transport. These are the real innovations and they already exist.

Why don’t we know? Thomas Everth and the school curriculum.

The recent school strike saw 170,000 people in the streets of Aotearoa demanding action on climate change. A physics teacher in Whitianga makes the point that the current curriculum requires him to teach Nuclear Physics when it’s clear that it’s the laws of Thermodynamics that will circumscribe their lives.