First Gas announced today a hydrogen-pipeline trial as one of the first projects likely to start at the National New Energy Development Centre being set up in Taranaki.

The New Plymouth-based company, which owns and operates gas networks, will base staff at the centre to design and run a trial of transmission and end use of hydrogen or hydrogen-blend gas.

First Gas CEO Paul Goodeve said the company was thrilled to be working on a piece of the puzzle for New Zealand’s energy future.

“Hydrogen is emissions-free at the point of use. Trials are starting up all over the world and must start here in New Zealand if we are to have all options on the table to achieve our zero emission targets.

“The trial is intensely practical: we need to work out what we need to modify on our network to transport the gas, and what adaptations users may need to make to machinery and practices.”

The first task is to identify the best part of the pipeline network to use to test a range of assets on various blends of hydrogen gas, the best sources of hydrogen at those locations, how to measure and meter energy flows, if there are any regulatory issues that need to be addressed and ensure end-users can safely and efficiently use the gas for their energy needs.

Mr Goodeve said the NNEDC was an ideal venue for the project.

“Transitioning to emissions-free energy poses tough technical and real-world challenges, and Taranaki holds the bulk of New Zealand’s expertise to do this. Our project team will collaborate with others at the centre to develop solutions that work in the future energy sector,” Mr Goodeve said

The feasibility assessment and network selection work will start this year, to establish a timeframe and work programme to tool up a section of the network to start transporting hydrogen to participating end users.  Hydrogen sources are available locally, but local expertise and technology could provide a dedicated source using wind or other renewable generation to power an electrolyser that splits water into hydrogen and oxygen.