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International Hydrogen Energy Experts to Meet in Rotorua

Global leaders in hydrogen technology will gather in Rotorua this month to discuss research and promotion of hydrogen as a fuel source for the future. They will also host a public forum where local industry and anyone with an interest is encouraged to attend to hear about the technology and its potential deployment.

The International Energy Agency Hydrogen Technology Collaboration Programme (IEA Hydrogen TCP) will hold the first of its biannual Executive Committee meetings 19-21 February 2019 at the Millennium Resort Hotel in Rotorua. The Executive Committee represents 21 member countries, the European Commission, UNIDO, and as 8 industrial members. 

The free public IEA Hydrogen Forum will be held on Wednesday 20 February from 1-3pm where members and experts will discuss hydrogen development along with the impact it could make in New Zealand, and on the global economy, with applications in transport, industry, and energy systems.

Mark Pickup, Principal Policy Advisor at Ministry of Business Innovation and Enterprise (MBIE), welcomed the opportunity to host the IEA Hydrogen Executive Committee. “The Ministry view is that hydrogen has the potential to play an important role in replacing fossil fuels and reducing greenhouse gas emissions in domestic transport and industry. New Zealand has an abundance of renewable electricity so there is also the potential to develop an export industry for renewable hydrogen, which is generated without any greenhouse gas emissions.” 

Mr Pickup said the Ministry had recently supported the formation of the New Zealand Hydrogen Association, tasked with driving adoption of renewable hydrogen.

Unitec Associate Professor of Engineering, Dr. Jonathan Leaver is MBIE’s representative on the Executive Committee and one of two elected IEA Hydrogen Vice-Chairs. He is also a member of the International Standards Organisation (ISO) Committee charged with the development of safe systems for the production, storage, transport, measurement and use of hydrogen. He says New Zealand stands to benefit from adopting hydrogen technologies.

“Hydrogen will have an important role in the transport sector alongside battery electric vehicles (BEVs). Hydrogen powered cars, trucks and trains are actually electric vehicles operating on hydrogen fuel cell technology instead of batteries. Fuel cells have no moving parts and convert hydrogen stored in a fuel tank into electricity and pure water. Fuel cell electric vehicles (FCEVs) have driving ranges and refuelling times similar to gasoline and diesel vehicles.”

Dr Leaver said, globally, the market development for hydrogen vehicles was about 8-10 years behind that of BEVs, although FCEV cars were available overseas from car makers such Toyota, Hyundai, and Honda.

In New Zealand, Ports of Auckland announced in December it would build the first hydrogen fuel production plant during 2019, with carbon-free fuel to be used in forklifts, cars, and potentially a bus.

Paul Lucchese, IEA Hydrogen Chairman from the French Commissariat for Atomic Energy and Alternative Energies(CEA), said hydrogen was gaining traction as a potential fuel source.
“Interest in hydrogen is burgeoning around the world, abetted by growing concern for the climate. Japan, the current G-20 President and an IEA Hydrogen member, plans to showcase the outlook for hydrogen (with IEA support) when it hosts the G20 Summit this June.”