Conference Season – The work that doesn’t feel like work

This seems to be “conference season” for our industry. In the past few weeks Entec has been represented at Connecting Green Hydrogen APAC in Melbourne, the Electrical Engineers Association conference in Christchurch, and the Hydrogen New Zealand H2 2 Zero summit in Wellington. Closer to the end of the month is the Sustainable Energy Association’s annual conference in Auckland.

And the icing on the cake was the annual Energy Excellence Awards in Christchurch.


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On the face of it, what’s not to enjoy about getting a bit dressed up, consuming the savouries and chocolate brownies, and quaffing the after-5 pinot noir? But on a more serious note, these events are an excellent opportunity to get one’s head out of one’s day-to-day role, taking the temperature of the industry and making new connections for future business.

As the most recent event in this conference season, I’m mostly going to discuss the second ever Hydrogen New Zealand H2 2 Zero summit which was held on September 7-8th. It was noted by many speakers that, whereas at last year’s inaugural event where there was a lot of discussion on what was being planned, by contrast this year’s event was dominated by discussion on what’s actually now happening.

It’s excellent news that local companies such as HW Richardson, Fabrum, and Halcyon Power are now in the construction phase of their projects to provide green hydrogen refuelling stations for the heavy transport sector. Introducing a new fuel (this is applicable to electricity as well as hydrogen as a transport fuel) is a perfect illustration of the old chicken-and-egg quandary – so these companies are also addressing the demand side of the equation by introducing fleets of hydrogen fuelled trucks.


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At the big end of town, the Southern Green Hydrogen project is gaining momentum in its aspiration to realise the value of some of New Zealand’s renewable electricity as an export product; green hydrogen and/or green ammonia. This would be a massive injection into the Southland economy.

And in a wonderful illustration of industry collaboration, the NZ hydrogen aviation consortium which was formed earlier in 2023 released its report on the future for green hydrogen in the aviation sector. The consortium’s partners are Air New Zealand, Airbus, Christchurch Airport, Fortescue, Fabrum and Hiringa. The power of collaboration was well summarised with an excellent proverb; “if you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together.”

The Energy Excellence Awards are an awesome celebration of the wider energy industry, the event is always superbly organised and showcases some of the best success stories from all aspects of the industry. If anyone’s interested, all of the finalists and winners are outlined here. Two of the winning entries stood out for me in terms of the ingenious innovation involved; solarZero which is providing power system stability and reserve capacity from a network of 3,200 (to date) household batteries, and a partnership between Fonterra and PolyJoule which has deployed an industrial scale organic battery into the Waitoa plant.


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In the decarbonisation camp (continuing the theme of our earlier newsletter) it was great to see Ecogas receiving an award for its project to process household food waste into biogas. And in terms of an award for good old-fashioned hard work, teamwork and going above and beyond, it’s hard to go past the award shared by Unison Networks and Transpower for their efforts to restore power to Hawkes’ Bay following the devastation of Cyclone Gabrielle.

As always, it’s great to get out of the office and interact with others in our industry. There’s so much to learn, and so many smart people out there to learn from. This is a great time to be working in energy!