We’re working behind the scenes to help change the future of gas and reach New Zealand’s zero carbon goal by 2050.
Our goal is to use our pipeline and distribution network to provide hydrogen and biogas as well as supplying bioLPG in bottles, so you’ll be able to transition to using low carbon gas for your home or business. We’ll also start feeding cleaned up biogas into the gas grid.
However, at this stage it’s unlikely New Zealand will be able to produce enough biogas to completely substitute natural gas. That’s why we’re taking steps to introduce low carbon hydrogen into our networks – initially introducing up to a 20% blend of hydrogen into our existing natural gas network.
As we gradually increase the amount of hydrogen in the gas grid, there will eventually be some changes required to our infrastructure as well as your appliances. We’ll let you know well in advance if this affects you, and work with you to make the necessary changes while you continue to enjoy the benefits of gas.
You won’t need to change your existing gas appliances for a long time. Research shows that most gas appliances will be able to use gas that has 20% hydrogen blended with natural gas17.
However, as we move towards 100% hydrogen, the performance of home appliances will be affected, because hydrogen burns differently. By the time this happens, we anticipate your existing oven or heating unit will have reached an age where it needs to be replaced anyway. Hydrogen ready appliances have been tested and are already being brought to market in Europe, so by the time we need them in Aotearoa, we think they’ll be ready to go.
Can I still connect my new home to natural gas or LPG?
Yes, you can. Gas is still an option. We’re working with the government on the delivery of renewable, low carbon gases, and research shows that most gas appliances will be able to use a gas that has up to 20% of hydrogen blended with natural gas.
Internationally, supplies of biogas, bioLPG and green hydrogen are already available. The next step is to develop these options in New Zealand. New Zealand currently produces enough biogas at landfills and wastewater treatment plants to meet about half of Aotearoa’s household gas needs. Firstgas Group is working with other organisations to plan and scale that up and connect it to our network in the future.
The important thing to remember is that gas won’t suddenly be ‘switched off’. We’ll be moving New Zealand’s existing gas supply to a low carbon gas slowly over time, targeting zero emissions by 2050. Your gas will continue to work throughout this transition.
Aotearoa’s total energy system will need to change between now and 2050 if we want to meet our low carbon target. That’s going to require more energy generation, storage and transportation, and that could well mean increased energy costs – especially if we have to start importing energy.
However, research shows that having a diversified energy system is the cheapest and most reliable option in a zero carbon future18. By hitting that sweet spot between increasing renewable electricity generation and producing zero carbon gas, we think we can keep costs down while still meeting our zero emission target by 2050. Having more options available to reduce emissions should help find the best balance of solutions out to 2050.
What does this mean for business and industrial customers?
You’ll still receive and be able to purchase natural gas or LPG for now, just as you’ve always done. The gas industry is working closely with the government to move to low carbon gas, but it will happen slowly over time. Our intention is to continue delivering natural gas and LPG until we can move to delivering hydrogen and biogas through our pipeline and distribution network, and bioLPG in bottles.
The switch to low carbon gases will require some modifications to the gas grid after 2035, but we’ll be in touch if this affects you and your appliances. If it does, we’ll work with you to ensure there is minimal impact on your operations – and we have plenty of time to plan for it.
When it comes to your equipment, research shows it’s unlikely it will be affected by blends of up to 20% hydrogen with natural gas. However, after 2035 when we progress towards 100% hydrogen, equipment will need to change as hydrogen burns differently. The good news is that equipment manufacturers are already bringing hydrogen-ready products to market. You’ll have plenty of time to replace equipment with hydrogen-ready equipment at the end of its lifespan.
How can businesses reduce emissions right now?
As a Kiwi business, there are many things you can do to reduce your emissions today. Start looking into how you can improve your efficiencies, or work with us to explore alternative energy solutions for your business. You could even investigate the potential to generate biogas at your site, or simply buy it from another producer. Whatever you decide, our team are experts and can help you develop a plan and make it a reality.
For Firstgas Group, the Hydrogen Pipeline Trial Study set the foundation for our ongoing delivery work on hydrogen. The results show we have sufficient network capacity and a viable strategy for converting our pipeline networks to a 20% hydrogen blend from 2030 and moving to 100% hydrogen by 2050.