Innovator Series Second Interview - Hiringa sets its sights on transport future

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Innovator Series Second Interview - Hiringa sets its sights on transport future

1 Jul 2020 | BusinessNZ Energy Council

Hiringa sets its sights on transport future

“You don’t get the opportunity to help change an energy system every day,” Hiringa Energy chief executive Andrew Clennett says.

He co-founded Hiringa, which is developing and building green hydrogen supply and refuelling infrastructure networks throughout New Zealand.

Mr Clennett expects to see a substantial shift towards green hydrogen between now and 2025 as costs plummet, with the business working with fleet operators and partners looking to introduce at least 350 trucks and more than 100 buses over the next few years.

Meanwhile, Hiringa will align these fleet introductions with building the first stage of its refuelling stations. Mr Clennett expects 8 to be completed by 2022 and 24 by 2025.

“Hydrogen will reach price parity with diesel from this point and then things will really start to accelerate.

Mr Clennett moved to New Zealand with his family in 2012 to take on a GM role at Todd Energy.

“I moved because I saw New Zealand as being this really interesting, nimble business environment – energy businesses are a real example of that.

“I’ve just seen that reinforced here and having seen what can be achieved in a country this size, to me it’s a classic you look how much we can punch above our weight.

“Whereas people before might have said. “great opportunity for New Zealand but the big boys are doing this”, well actually, New Zealand is the perfect size to accelerate this and demonstrate what can be done.

“Full scale, country-wide zero-emission heavy transport is a pretty exciting concept and New Zealand could be one of the first places in the world to really do that.”

The Covid impact

Leading into Covid-19, Mr Clennett says Hiringa was in “accelerating start-up mode” which involved a lot of travel and face-to-face meetings.

Fortunately, the company also had a strong online presence, a cloud-based database and a lot of internal video conferencing.

“We were very geared for it; it was very easy from our point of view.”

He says the business thrived through Covid, with a high degree of productivity both internally but also an acceleration of B2B meetings and partnership discussions.

While the country went into lockdown and the streets emptied, there was still one class of vehicle taking to the roads – heavy freight. It got food, computers and PPE delivered at a crucial time, cementing the importance of Hiringa’s work.

“Green hydrogen has only just got going. It’s got incredible potential and it will be significantly cheaper than fossil fuels.”

During the period he says Hiringa’s inboxes “ran hot” with energy and transport companies wanting to engage. Some of those companies are looking to pivot their entire business towards renewables.

“Green hydrogen production has huge potential to be very competitive but it needs to scale quickly, so we are focussed on making sure we don’t get distracted.”