What Next after the Oil and Gas Exploration Ban in New Zealand?
New Zealand recently banned the exploration of oil and gas. In the wake of this new ban, many startups, as well as the government, are working hard to find a substitute for hydrocarbons. One start up that has been able to stand out is Hiringa Energy that was founded in 2017. It was founded by Taranaki-based engineers, Andrew and Catherine Clennett and seeks to produce hydrogen fuel to power electric automobiles.
So far, this startup has been successful in receiving $950,000 from the Government’s Provincial Growth Fund in an effort to foster its fast development. Hydrogen fuel is already in use in countries such as Japan, China, South Korea and Germany. It has numerous advantages, such as its high efficiency and cleanliness. However, it is ironic that the government has placed a ban on the exploration of hydrocarbons, which is the easiest way of producing hydrogen fuel. Hiringa Energy produces the fuel by gathering the excess hydrogen from petrochemical companies in the country. They then purify it before placing it in a fuel cell.
It is worth noting that, for the hydrocarbon splitting process to be truly zero emissions and in line with the new government rules and regulations, the carbon omitted needs to be captured. This start up seems to have a solution to this as they seek to convert the emissions to solid graphite. This way, they would be able to engage in large-scale production of hydrogen fuel. The firm is also focusing on developing production innovations that are more environmentally friendly, including electrolysis which has the potential to capture the full energy of renewable materials and will become more cost effective as the technology improves. As such, it is clear that only innovation, research and development in the gas & oil sector could remedy the situation as it stands currently.