Hydrogen Trial Programme

September 23rd, 2020

Hydrogen Trial Programme

A feasibility study has informed implementation of a trial programme and preparatory activities for the fuller introduction of hydrogen into existing gas networks in New Zealand.

Main proponents:

Firstgas Limited

Main end-use classification:

Hydrogen in gas networks


Advanced development – an initial trial of hydrogen blended into part of the North Island’s gas distribution network is anticipated for 2022

Estimated cost:


Other involvement:


Production details:



Taranaki, New Zealand

Announced funding:

NZ$260,000 – New Zealand Government Provincial Growth Fund

Project description

Firstgas Limited, based in New Plymouth, Taranaki, owns and operates one of New Zealand’s largest gas networks with 2,504 kilometres (km) of high-pressure gas transmission pipelines and around 4,800 km of gas distribution pipelines in the North Island.

Firstgas launched its hydrogen pipeline network transition work in March 2020 with a series of stakeholder engagement workshops.  These workshops included industry, government and producers and explored the potential role of hydrogen and the likely future shape of a hydrogen economy.

A feasibility study was undertaken to progress understanding of how Firstgas could prepare for the use of hydrogen in its gas distribution network; the study included:

  • Assessment of potential end-use markets for hydrogen / hydrogen blends
  • Technical feasibility of converting the gas grid
  • Demonstration trial programme definition
  • Economic analysis of energy decarbonisation pathways

The feasibility study was released at end March 2021 and informed the Firstgas transition timeline to decarbonise its gas distribution network by 2050: hydrogen blending in the live network would commence in 2030 to reach a 20% hydrogen blend across the network by 2035, with planned conversion to a 100% hydrogen network by 2050.

The feasibility study outlined a range of preparatory gas transmission and distribution pipeline-related activities to be undertaken in the period 2021-2030. As well as materials and end-use equipment assessments and conversion planning, a multi-year series of trials (along with hydrogen pipeline testing activities) is planned to be undertaken across parts of the distribution network.

Detailed planning is underway in support of the first hydrogen blending trial (of up to 20% blend by volume) in part of the distribution network, which is anticipated for the first half of 2022 (and which would include a selection of residential and industrial users).

Firstgas was awarded approximately NZ$260,000 of Provincial Growth Fund co-funding for the feasibility study.


This description is based in consultation with Firstgas and is current as of June 2021.