World-scale green hydrogen and ammonia in New Zealand from 2025

Two organisations – Meridian Energy and Contact Energy – are seeking partners to develop the world’s largest green hydrogen plant in Southland, New Zealand. If successful, the project will see NZ become the world’s first large-scale green hydrogen producer.

Hydroammonia exports from southern New Zealand

Meridian's Manapōuri power station.
Click to learn more. Meridian’s Manapōuri power station. Source: The Southern Green Hydrogen project.

Hydroelectricity from Meridian’s Manapōuri power station will be used for green hydrogen production once a key supply contract between Meridian and New Zealand Aluminium Smelters expires at the end of 2024. According to a report from McKinsey & Co, the proposed 600 MW green hydrogen plant could be worth more than $300 million to the NZ economy annually. The report concludes ammonia is the “high-potential, near-term” option to act as a hydrogen carrier because of:

  • proven production and transport technologies,
  • increased demand from Japan, a key regional trading partner,
  • the potential to replace NZ’s current ammonia-based fertiliser imports, and
  • cost-competitiveness for NZ green ammonia compared with other countries.

New Zealand has a key competitive advantage, as the renewable electricity available from 1 January 2025 could produce green hydrogen at an internationally competitive price point. This could enable New Zealand to be a world-leading exporter of green hydrogen. In addition, New Zealand’s abundance of low-cost renewable development options may support long‑term growth.

McKinsey & Co, The New Zealand Hydrogen Opportunity, July 2021

Meridian Energy CEO Neal Barclay says Southland has all the necessary infrastructure to support green hydrogen development:

In New Zealand we’ve got a unique advantage. We’ve got a highly renewable electricity grid. We’ve got a robust transmission. We’ve got skilled labor. In the Southland region in particular, we’ve got industrial sites available and we’ve got access to a port. Really, we’ve got everything we need to take advantage of this opportunity.

This will be the largest green hydrogen production facility in the world, without doubt. There’s nothing comparable in scale to what we’re talking about in this country at the moment. Others will come, but we’ve got the opportunity to take the first step at scale and do something quite remarkable.

Meridian Energy CEO Neal Barclay, Meridian, Contact CEOs on NZ hydrogen opportunity, 21 July 2021

Mike Fuge and Meridian Energy CEO Neal Barclay discuss the potential Southland green hydrogen project in this video interview:

Source: Southern Green Hydrogen.
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