EU-backed Taranaki delegation heads to Lithuania to continue work on low emissions future

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A Taranaki delegation is heading to Europe this month to continue its two-year work programme to create a low emissions project with a region in the northern hemisphere as the province transitions to a low emissions future. 


Hiringa Energy, Ara Ake, Venture Taranaki, and the New Plymouth District Council all have representatives on the work programme, which started in September 2021.


It is largely funded by the European Union (EU) and pairs regions with similar economic profiles to work together on low carbon solutions.   


To date the programme has included more than 20 education sessions facilitated by an independent academic where the two partners considered potential opportunities including the 2050 Taranaki roadmap, hydrogen future, wastewater (thermal dryer), partnerships and local participation.


Opportunities around transport, emissions reductions, waste to energy, infrastructure decarbonisation, renewable energy, greener neighbourhoods, and our central city strategy were also looked at.


In July last year the EU ambassador to New Zealand visited the province and the team from the Vilnius region in Lithuania took part in a Taranaki education session.


Executive Director of Hiringa Energy Catherine Clennett says the project is a timely opportunity for both Taranaki and Aotearoa New Zealand to demonstrate their emerging leadership in green hydrogen technology deployment. 


“This year’s devastating climatic events have highlighted the urgent need to create resilient communities powered by sustainable and clean energy sources.

“Safe and clean hydrogen-fuelled vehicles are just starting to travel our roads, but it will take the will of our whole community – both private and public organisations and people to accelerate this transition to a low carbon future.”

“Hiringa is building the renewable generation and infrastructure to supply the green hydrogen required, and we are fortunate that we have the right skills and experience, and the pragmatic “can do” attitude required here in Taranaki,” Catherine Clennett says.


“We have much to both learn from and offer our European partners and we look forward to implementing real and meaningful projects as a result.”


Venture Taranaki Chief Executive Kelvin Wright said this unique opportunity has the potential for significant benefits for both Taranaki and Vilnius in Lithuania.


“The delegation’s journey showcases that we can tackle global issues and establish a mutually beneficial partnership through international collaboration. By joining forces with Lithuania, a leader in renewable energy innovation, we have the opportunity to share knowledge, leverage our joint expertise, and accelerate the implementation of innovative solutions in both countries.


“Lithuania has expressed an interest in understanding our pioneering Taranaki 2050 Roadmap and how this is driving our decarbonisation and regional development, whereas we’re interested in forming a relationship with a country that has extensive experience in renewable energy systems such as bioenergy and how that can be deployed in Taranaki.” 


Ara Ake Head of Policy, Research and Insights Jonathan Young says following the EU Ambassador Nina Obermaier’s visit to New Plymouth last year, Ara Ake has been active in building connections with European innovators in the energy sector.


“Currently we have three collaborative projects with European innovators to accelerate decarbonisation in New Zealand and Europe. This visit to Lithuania will further strengthen our relationship with Europe and explore opportunities for collaboration, improving the transfer of innovative technologies to and from New Zealand.  Ara Ake now leads the Enterprise Europe Network for New Zealand, which enables business to business relationship building between New Zealand and the EU.”


New Plymouth District Deputy Mayor David Bublitz says the EU are leading the way in sustainable living and have cutting edge research and technical experts at their fingertips while Vilnius is a major player in the Baltic region in transitioning its economy and has been heavily backed by the extensive EU funding.

“As Taranaki looks for alternatives and improvements to our traditional energy and agriculture sectors, the European-funded programme has seen us paired with the Lithuanian region of Vilnius, which has lofty goals to be a climate-neutral city by 2030.


“We have a short-term goal to agree a joint pilot project and a long-term goal of potentially unlocking some funds to help our region transition.  Pilot opportunities with Vilnius include options around rubbish recycling, greener neighbourhoods, hydrogen energy and collaborative engagement through online platforms,” David Bublitz said. 

Find out more about the EU-funded programme, the International Urban Regional Cooperation (IURC) programme


Caption: In 2022 delegates from the Vilnius region of Lithuania were part of an EU-funded delegation to Taranaki which included a visit to Hiringa Energy.