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Air New Zealand trials hydrogen power at Wellington Airport

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Air New Zealand trials hydrogen power at Wellington Airport
Air New Zealand is running a short trial to test the use of hydrogen to power its electric service vehicles and aircraft tugs in Wellington.

Alongside the airline and airport, Toyota New Zealand and New Zealand clean energy company Hiringa Energy are also involved in the trial.

Toyota is supplying a hydrogen fuel cell, which uses hydrogen to generate electricity, while Hiringa is coordinating the hydrogen supply.

“This is the first-time hydrogen has been used at an airport in New Zealand and is an important step on the long-term journey to decarbonise aviation,” said Wellington Airport chief executive Matt Clarke. 

“The trial will help us assess the viability of hydrogen for charging and give us a good insight into the operational challenges and opportunities.” 

Senior sustainability manager at Air New Zealand, Jacob Snelgrove, highlighted that hydrogen is already being used to power various modes of transport.

“Green hydrogen is starting to be used around the world as a low-emission fuel for buses, trucks, trains and boats. Aircraft are the logical next step and successful test flights are already underway overseas,” he said.

“The biggest challenge here in New Zealand, is setting up the supply, transport and infrastructure to support fuelling the aircraft. This trial is an important first step to enable the development of that system.”

Hiringa’s CEO, Andrew Clennett, said it was a privilege to be involved in the trial to showcase how hydrogen can be used safely in aviation.

“Green hydrogen has a significant role to play in decarbonising Aotearoa, and this programme is helping everyone to better understand the benefits of introducing hydrogen to airport operations as we prepare for hydrogen-powered aircraft in the future.”

Toyota’s New Zealand chief executive, Neeraj Lala, echoed comments about the trial demonstrating the benefits of hydrogen.

“By showcasing innovative solutions like the fuel cell generator in practical applications such as aviation, we can stimulate demand and demonstrate the viability and benefits of hydrogen technology, ultimately paving the way for broader adoption and investment in hydrogen across various sectors of the New Zealand economy,” said Lala.

In December 2023, Air New Zealand announced the first aircraft in its next generation of flying machines, which aim to generate no carbon emissions.

The ALIA designed by BETA Technologies will be an all-electric aircraft and is expected to enter service for Air New Zealand – as a cargo plane only, at this stage – in 2026.

The 12m-long plane will initially fly 150km routes. It has successfully flown more than 480km in a flight test.

The current trial at Wellington Airport started on Monday and runs until next Friday.

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