Two recent industry conferences (Hyvolution 2020 and International Power Summit) enthusiastically-confirmed again that the pace of change within the global power sector towards renewable generation continues unabated yet must be supported by dispatchable, cost-competitive, reliable gas turbines. The trend, not surprisingly, is to decarbonize the power grid, and to do that, either the gas turbines are run with natural gas and employ carbon capture and sequestration (CCS) at the power plant – still a nascent and unproven technology at scale – or to use hydrogen as the fuel. Hydrogen, when burned in a gas turbine, produces water, no carbon dioxide (CO2), which contributes to climatic change, and if done with our FlameSheet™ lean, premix combustion design, very low levels of government-mandated NOx emissions. NOx emissions contribute to ozone and ground level smog, also a very troubling societal concern. “Green” hydrogen can be manufactured by using renewable power, say from wind or solar power, via a process called electrolysis or “water splitting”, by passing an electric current through the water— which yields hydrogen and oxygen – and no carbon! The equipment to do this, called Electrolyzers, are widely available today and beginning to achieve commercially the economies of scale to produce the hydrogen to allow cost-competitive power.
We see the promise of hydrogen in the power generation industry being pushed hard in the European Union (EU) with the passage of environmental regulations and from societal pressures. Together, ATH and PSM are working with funding from the Netherlands’ government to develop our FlameSheet™ combustion platform for 100% hydrogen fuel consumption. It will first been done for a 1.6MW gas turbine by a Hengelo, Netherlands-based company called OPRA Turbines. To date, the phase 1 test rig testing has been conducted with exciting results and next steps to follow for a full engine test. This is a perfect application for an industrial park needing power and heat, with close-by solar PV and/or wind turbines feeding a local commercial-scale electrolysis plant. A full zero-carbon footprint!
We presented at both of these industry events; at the Hyvolution conference, which was mostly focused on mobility (hydrogen for transport), it was a panel session videotaped for YouTube. (YouTube Video Link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JIgKLDXw0A0) ATH and PSM’s objectives and approach were received enthusiastically.
We were not surprised by this reception. Because of the vast amounts of hydrogen that would be needed to fuel gas turbine power plants, these hydrogen economy innovators, along with their financial backers, are looking for the right market demand responses. For sure, we gave them reason to be excited!
At the International Power Summit, in Hamburg, Germany, the question was not a matter of “if” hydrogen will be key in the transformation of the power sector, but “how soon”. Our presentation and subsequent customer discussions confirmed our strategy of retrofits to the operators of the installed base of gas turbines, clearly concluding that the move to this new power paradigm is inevitable!