Hydrogen power plant plan could make Hastings the centre of NZ’s new energy economy
6 Apr, 2021 : Hawkes Bay Today 3 minutes to read
A large gas supplier has revealed a plan that could make Hastings the centre of a new energy economy.
Dozens of jobs could be in the pipeline after a report by First Gas Group found the Hawke’s Bay city was ideally suited for the creation of a plant to generate man-made hydrogen.
First Gas Group, which operates the natural gas pipe networks in the North Island and owns Rockgas, an LPG supply and distribution business, says the city can play a key role in the nationwide change toward zero-carbon gases and hydrogen over the next three decades, creating jobs and powering the community in a ‘greener’ way.
The report details how Hawke’s Bay and specifically Hastings will be used to phase in natural gas hydrogen blends – up to 20 per cent hydrogen – from 2030.
First Gas hydrogen project leader Angela Ogier said the change to hydrogen could create dozens of jobs in a potential new regional energy industry: making hydrogen to power factories, homes, transport, and store energy.
“Changing to zero or low-emission gases would mean more energy options for local consumers and a totally new industry in the local economy,” she said.
The report found the region’s gas infrastructure is made of modern materials and equipment that can be repurposed to supply green hydrogen (a zero-carbon alternative to natural gas).
The plan, Ogier said, is to gradually start generating enough Hawke’s Bay hydrogen to blend into natural gas, and producing enough by 2050 to displace natural gas entirely.
The report identified Hastings as a potential base.
Ogier said a yet-to-be-confirmed site in Hastings is best suited because of its proximity to the gas and electricity networks and water supplies.
Newly-built electrolyser plants would use electricity to split water into hydrogen and oxygen.
“The hydrogen would be made by new businesses, hiring local workers and suppliers,” she said.
“It would be blended into the local network without customers needing to change equipment just yet.”
She said there would be a 20-year grace period for everyone to switch to hydrogen-friendly appliances, and when old equipment reaches the end of its life.
By 2050, Ogier said First Gas envisages hydrogen would also be fueling totally new uses such as powering trains, buses and trucks.
Hastings Mayor Sandra Hazlehurst said she welcomes the initiative to invest in the district and create high-value jobs.
“Having an alternative gas supply by 2050 is to be applauded if New Zealand is to reach the Climate Change Commission’s goal of no natural gas in buildings by that date,” Hazlehurst said.
Ogier said a local energy industry would also increase the ability of the region to handle fluctuations in demand and supply, and outages, across all types of energy.