Press Release: Fast-tracking Hiringa-Ballance Kapuni Hydrogen Project

The Environmental Protection Authority is processing the consents application lodged jointly by Hiringa Energy and Ballance Agri-Nutrients under the COVID-19 Recovery (Fast-track Consenting) Act 2020. The project aims to establish a so-called green hydrogen hub in Kapuni, including new infrastructure for hydrogen production, storage, offtake and refueling, and four colossal wind turbines taller than the Ngāmotu chimney. The project requires consents for land-use, water take and contaminant discharge, without public notification.

“Hydrogen technology is not a new energy but an inefficient energy storage system that requires huge amounts of energy which is better used directly instead. It requires investment in expensive new infrastructure and involves splitting wai which goes against tikanga Māori. We desperately need to invest in real climate solutions for relocalised economies rather than greenwashing and delay tactics by polluting industries that want to continue industrial fertiliser production, heavy trucking and international shipping. It was described as a public delusion 20 years ago, and it still is,” said Tuhi-Ao Emily Bailey, spokesperson of Climate Justice Taranaki.

“Hydrogen storage, loadout and refueling are significant hazardous activities. It is not clear that we have all the rules and capacity to limit and manage the health and safety risks involved. The Ministry of Transport’s analyses acknowledge that battery electric vehicles (BEVs) are three times more energy efficient than hydrogen fuel cell electric vehicles (FCEVs) and central government funding is needed to de-risk private sector investment. There appears to be no proven economic case for it. The four colossal wind turbines will be seen in front of the maunga from a large part of the South Taranaki district with no public input,” explained Sarah Roberts, spokesperson of Taranaki Energy Watch.

Under schedule 6 section 17 of the Covid-19 Recovery (Fast-Track Consenting) Act, no public or limited notification is allowed. Only the local authorities, iwi, the land owners/occupiers of the land, the immediate neighbours, and a short list of NGOs may be invited to comment on the application, by October 21st in this case.

Our group has submitted on the Fast-track Bill and raised serious concerns over hydrogen formally on many occasions. Yet we are not invited to have a say on this project in our rohe. If you belong to one of the entities invited to comment on the application, please consider carefully, ask questions and seek advice,” Bailey urged.

There are numerous flaws in the Fast-Track Act, notably the erosion of public participation.  Yet the government is rushing through an omnibus bill to extend this Act for another year (till July 2023) and defer the announcement of the first emissions budget by five months, among other things. The bill was introduced to parliament on September 28th, with submissions closing tomorrow October 5th, allowing just five working days for public input.

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  1. Kia ora Dijol, thank you for engaging.
    The key problem is that globally we have already breached several planetary boundaries beyond which we can expect dire consequences. We cannot simply switch the fuel source or increase energy efficiency just to keep every industry in play. It is crunch time to re-prioritize and make some sharp decisions, such as which industry do we really want to keep and what we must eliminate or substantially downsize. Aviation is one of those industries that cannot possibly be sustained at the scale it is now.
    Indeed we need to invest in more renewable energy but we must do it without causing harm somewhere else, notably environmental and social impacts in far flung countries where minerals are mined for our renewable technologies.
    As a society, we need to ditch the perpetual growth mantra and refocus on building community wellbeing and resilience instead.
    Nāku noa, Catherine

  2. Great article, I just have a few arguments.

    As much as I agree that hydrogen should not be the end goal, there’s definitely an economic, and engineering, case for it to get certain industries to net zero. The aviation industry is a good example of this, where battery powered flight is not entirely feasible with the current weight of batteries.

    As a side note on hydrogen, it feels a bit weird to limit and condemn scientific development due to tikanga Māori values?

    On another topic, the wind turbines obstructing some of the view of the mountain seems like a strange argument as well. I feel like the main concern for society right now should be investing into as much renewable energy as possible, rather that worrying about some blocked views.

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