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

​​Auckland Council, KiwiRail & Auckland Transport supporting the project

EDIT - September 2019:

When we announced this project, we hoped to be producing hydrogen within 12 months, but this is looking unlikely. There are a number of challenges with delivering a first of its kind project like this. Developing a robust and safe design, undertaking detailed hazard analysis and navigating the legislative requirements have all taken longer than first planned but we are confident that it has been time well spent and will contribute to a successful project.

We are pleased with current progress. Resource consent has been lodged, and plant procurement is progressing with evaluations of RFP submissions currently underway. We hope to have the plant operational by mid to late 2020.

Investing for a sustainable future

In a first for Auckland, Ports of Auckland has committed to build a hydrogen production and refuelling facility at its Waitematā 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.

Ports of Auckland Chief Executive Tony Gibson said "We have an ambitious target to be a zero emission port by 2040. 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."

Ports of Auckland will fund the construction of a facility which 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 which powers the car. The only by-product of the process is water.

"If this trial is successful", said Mr 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 experts Arup are also helping support this project through the development, design and delivery phases.

Mayor Phil Goff said, "I welcome this trial. It is a first for New Zealand and shows Auckland's desire to lead on climate change action and meet our ambitious emissions reduction targets.

"With 40 per cent of emissions in Auckland coming from our transport system, alternative energy sources to power vehicles, such as electric and hydrogen, are critical to meeting the target of global warming to 1.5 degrees.

"With infrastructure in place, hydrogen has the potential to power our buses and other parts of our vehicle fleet both reducing global emissions and cutting back on air pollution in Auckland such as in Queen Street where carbon levels are very high," says Mayor Phil Goff.

Auckland Council's Chief Executive, Stephen Town, says, "We're proud to collaborate with the Ports of Auckland, Auckland Transport and KiwiRail 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 says KiwiRail is delighted to be part of this ground-breaking project. "KiwiRail is committed to a sustainable future and has set a goal to be carbon neutral by 2050. While rail is an inherently sustainable form of transport with 66% 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."

Auckland Transport Chief Executive Shane Ellison says AT is committed to clean technology and is very interested in the possibilities of hydrogen power. "This could be part of the answer for our fleet of buses and harbour ferries. The idea of a vehicle which only produces water as a by-product is very exciting."

The project is currently in the planning phase, and Ports of Auckland 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.


Why Hydrogen?

  • Hydrogen offers a flexible, clean approach to energy for Auckland and NZ.
  • Hydrogen can be produced by electrolysis using on-or-off-grid electricity. As long as the electricity is from a renewable source, the hydrogen is emissions free. As over 80% of New Zealand's electricity is from renewable generation, we have significant potential for green hydrogen production.
  • Hydrogen is not new. There have been extensive trials overseas and hydrogen vehicles are in use in the UK, USA, Japan, Korea and Europe. There are a number of hydrogen vehicles available commercially.
  • Hydrogen is predicted to be a great solution for zero emissions heavy vehicles because it is easy to use, fast to refuel and provides much greater range than batteries.
  • Hydrogen trains offer the benefits of electrification without the need for major infrastructure investment.
  • Hydrogen use isn't restricted to vehicles. Excess electricity can be converted into hydrogen, stored and then converted back to electricity when needed, for example to balance demand on the national grid.

Global Trends and Trials

  • Ports globally are involved in trialling hydrogen usage, including the Port of LA and Port of Long Beach, Port of Honolulu, Port of Valencia and Port of Rotterdam
  • Global automotive manufacturers (such as Toyota, Hyundai, Audi and Honda), have developed hydrogen powered vehicles.
  • Worldwide there are 200+ public hydrogen stations
  • 56 fuel cell buses trialled for six years in Europe
  • Norway and San Francisco are trialling hydrogen ferries
  • Hyundai is launching 1,000 Hydrogen Trucks in Switzerland, Norway and Netherlands between 2019 and 2023
  • Toyota has developed hydrogen powered trucks being trialled at Port of Los Angeles
  • South Korea is planning to replace 36,000 CNG buses with hydrogen buses by 2030
  • Hydrogen passenger trains are in use in Germany, following successful trials.


For further information contact:

Matt Ball
Head of Communications
Ports of Auckland
M: +6421 495 645​
E: [email protected]