In order to meet that target we need a new renewable and resilient power source for heavy equipment like tugs and straddle carriers, which are difficult to power with batteries. Hydrogen could be the solution for us as it can be produced and stored on site, allows rapid refueling, and provides greater range than batteries,

...explained Ports of Auckland Chief Executive Tony Gibson.

As part of the project, Ports of Auckland will fund the construction of a facility which will produce hydrogen from tap water. The process uses electrolysis to split water into hydrogen (which is then stored for later use) and oxygen, which is released into the air. Demonstration vehicles will be able to fill up with hydrogen at the facility, which will be just like filling up a car with CNG or LPG.

According to Mr Gibson, if this trial is successful, the technology could have a wider application, shifting Auckland and New Zealand towards energy self-sufficiency, as hydrogen-fueled vehicles are quieter and 'emit nothing more than clean water'.

The project partners will provide technical support and will purchase hydrogen fuel cell vehicles for the project. Global hydrogen experts Arup are also helping support this project through the development, design and delivery phases.

Mayor Phil Goff welcomed the announcement:

With 40 per cent of emissions in Auckland coming from our transport system, alternative energy sources to power vehicles, such as electric and hydrogen, are critical to meeting the target of global warming to 1.5 degrees. With infrastructure in place, hydrogen has the potential to power our buses and other parts of our vehicle fleet both reducing global emissions and cutting back on air pollution in Auckland such as in Queen Street where carbon levels are very high.

The project is currently in the planning phase, and Ports of Auckland is about to start stakeholder engagement before applying for resource consent in early 2019. The facility is planned to be operational by the end of 2019.

We're proud to collaborate with the Ports of Auckland, Auckland Transport and KiwiRail on this innovative hydrogen project – a first for New Zealand. It is important for organisations like ours, as signatories to the Climate Leaders Coalition, to continue leading on climate change action; it's also important for us to push the boundaries with ambitious projects that demonstrate leadership here in Auckland. Trialing new technology to reduce emissions and signalling a smarter economic future is important for our city's people, places and prosperity,

...added Auckland Council's Chief Executive, Stephen Town.

In other parts of the world, Norway and San Francisco are trialing hydrogen ferries, while the Port of Los Angeles is currently trialing hydrogen-powered trucks. Hydrogen vehicles are in use in the UK, USA, Japan, Korea and Europe, while there are a number of hydrogen vehicles available commercially.