Press release: Activists warn Adern: Hydrogen no path to low carbon future

Members of Climate Justice Taranaki and other community groups gathered with white elephants outside the launch of the National New Energy Development Centre today by Prime Minister Jacinda Adern and Energy Minister Megan Woods. The protesters are opposed to the government’s support of Hydrogen technology.  

“We are repeating bad choices again from the Think Big era of the 1980’s that had far reaching economic burden and environmental impacts upon us,” said Fiona Clark, Visual activist and Tikorangi Gaslands resident.

“As benign and fashionable a Hydrogen economy may sound, the zealous push for it as the essential route to a just transition is unfounded, both in physics and economic terms,” explained Climate Justice Taranaki researcher Catherine Cheung.

“The production of Green Hydrogen from water and renewable energy is extremely expensive and inefficient. Its storage and distribution, also costly and energy intensive, are fraught with technical and safety issues.”

“There are suggestions to make Blue Hydrogen with fossil fuels and carbon capture, then move onto Green Hydrogen using renewable energy when the economics becomes more favourable. But carbon capture is largely unproven for effectively reducing greenhouse gas emissions. Building off-shore wind farms to make Green Hydrogen for export will likely retain energy control in large corporations and drive prices up for communities.”

“Taranaki has received lots of government and foreign money for Hydrogen: $37 million to replace the New Plymouth Wastewater Treatment Plant’s thermal dryer and $50 million to make more urea and set up a Hydrogen refueling network.”

“But the new thermal dryer will still rely on fossil gas, albeit with 25-40% less emissions, and continue to discharge polluting effluents. Urea made from Green Hydrogen will continue to degrade soils and waterways and hold farmers in debt.”

“Perhaps all the hype for so-called Green Hydrogen is little more than a trojan horse or a white elephant. It makes us believe that we are taking serious climate action while allowing extractive, polluting industries to continue business as usual.”

“There is a just transition path to a low carbon economy, beginning with substantial reduction in energy demand. With Rio Tinto’s aluminium smelter finally shutting down, and if we stop big hydro-power companies from manipulating water flows to drive prices up, we won’t need as much new energy as forecasted. Community-owned energy systems that are efficient, affordable and environmentally and socially responsible, is where the government should be investing.”

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Media coverage:

‘Momentous’ occasion as PM officially opens $27m new energy centre (Stuff, 23 July 2020)

Jacinda Ardern launches Ara Ake energy centre in Taranaki (RNZ, 23 July 2020)

Ardern launches new energy centre in Taranaki (RNZ, 23 July 2020 Interview)

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