Construction begins on New Zealand’s first green hydrogen refueling site

Artist's impression of green hydrogen refueling stations built by Hiringa Energy and Waitomo Group to support hydrogen trucks.

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Artist’s impression of green hydrogen refueling stations built by Hiringa Energy and Waitomo Group to support hydrogen trucks.

The long road to bringing green hydrogen to New Zealand’s heavy-haul fleets is “coming to fruition”, says a Taranaki engineer who is helping to drive the project.

Last month, CJ Lepper, project engineer for Hiringa Energy, was in Europe and the UK to check machinery and parts being shipped to New Zealand for its first four green hydrogen refueling stations.

And this week, construction begins on the nation’s first, which is being built near Palmerston North Airport.

Taranaki's projects engineer, CJ Lepper of Hiringa Energy, says it's

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Taranaki projects engineer CJ Lepper of Hiringa Energy says it’s “great” to see the hydrogen fueling stations come together.

“It was a long journey and a lot of planning,” Lepper said.

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The New Plymouth-based engineer is the refueling network project manager and is working on delivering the first stations with Waitomo Group.

He has just returned from his trip abroad, where he visited the suppliers manufacturing equipment for the refueling stations, as well as the vehicles that will circulate on the network.

Some were ready to ship, while others weren’t too far off — which was “awesome,” Lepper said.

“It feels real,” he said. “All that hard work is paying off.”

While there, he visited other green hydrogen refueling sites. One in Berlin was powered on site by wind turbines.

Lepper, who was born and raised in Lepperton, north of New Plymouth, has worked for Hiringa Energy for more than three years.

He joined the company because he “wanted to drive change” and help reduce emissions.

“And we are on the right track.”

In Belgium, CJ Lepper, project engineer at Hiringa Energy, visited a refueling station producing green hydrogen on site.

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In Belgium, CJ Lepper, project engineer at Hiringa Energy, visited a refueling station producing green hydrogen on site.

The Palmerston North refueling station should be operational in two to three months, he said.

Construction will begin later this year at other stations in Hamilton, Tauriko and Auckland.

Lepper said he looked forward to when all four are up and running – with more in the pipeline.

“It will be an exciting day.”

Hiringa Energy chief executive Andrew Clennett says heavy transport accounts for more than 25% of total vehicle emissions in New Zealand.  (File photo)

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Hiringa Energy chief executive Andrew Clennett says heavy transport accounts for more than 25% of total vehicle emissions in New Zealand. (File photo)

The four stations will create a North Island network, serving more than 95% of the country’s heavy haul routes, Hiringa Energy chief executive Andrew Clennett said in a press release.

He said that while heavy-duty transport accounts for just 4% of New Zealand vehicles, it accounts for over 25% of our total vehicle emissions.

“Green hydrogen is the key technology that will keep these fleets on the road.

“This is a clean, consumer-grade energy solution that can have a real impact on reducing our transportation emissions.”