Contact, Meridian Energy considering Southland for world's largest green hydrogen plant

Two major energy companies are considering Bluff in Southland as a possible location for the world's largest green hydrogen plant.

Contact and Meridian Energy are currently seeking partners for the project, which would make New Zealand the world leaders in green energy.

Imagine filling up your car with gas that is made from nothing but water - that could be a reality if the energy companies succeed in making New Zealand the world's first large-scale producer of green hydrogen.

"We're aiming to be 100 percent green by 2030 so that puts us in the top handful of countries globally," Guy Waipara from Meridian Energy told Newshub.

Contact Energy's Mike Fuge said the plant "could lead to the establishment of a whole new industry for New Zealand".

The two companies are eyeing Bluff as a possible location for the plant once Tiwai Point finishes up in 2024. 

"Because it's got a deep water port, it's got a very reliable electricity supply, it's got transmission in there, it's got all the elements that go, yes that adds up," Fuge said.

The demand for green energy is growing by the day and would be an export boom. It would help decarbonise economies both in New Zealand and overseas.

Hydrogen has the ability to power everything, from cars to trains, boats, homes and industry.

Green Hydrogen is produced exclusively from renewable power resulting in zero CO2 emissions. All the process leaves behind is water.

It would also help support the New Zealand energy system in dry years when hydro lake levels are low and initially lead to thousands of jobs in Southland.

The biggest hurdle is the cost, which would be around $1.5 - $2 billion, but Fuge says it's worth it to "help save the planet".

The two power companies are running a registration of interest process for the next two months.

"It might be industrial conglomerates in Japan and South Korea, it might be governments," Fuge said.

The New Zealand Government said this plan offers huge potential for clean energy in New Zealand and to help achieve the goal of a low emissions economy.