It seems that one cannot help but see the topic of climate change in more media outlets these days, with a growing sense of urgency and immediacy for action. The Paris Agreement, established at the UN Change Conference (COP21), is an environmental accord that was adopted by nearly every nation in 2015 to address climate change and its deleterious impacts, with the aim to substantially reduce global greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. This effort being required to limit the global average temperature increase in this century to 2 deg C above pre-industrial level, while pursuing means to limit the increase to 1.5 deg C.
The agreement includes commitments, called National Climate Commitments or NCC’s, from all major emitting countries to cut their climate-altering pollution and to strengthen those commitments over time (See graphic below). With COP26 convening in Glasgow, Scotland in November 2021, there is now a renewed sense of urgency, with many countries accelerating their previous commitments, despite the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, from COP21. It is imperative that the momentum being generated is reinforced by this meeting where commitments to historic actions and objectives will be solidified.
So, what is a GHG? Well, these are gases in the Earth’s atmosphere that trap heat. They let sunlight pass through the atmosphere, but they prevent the heat that the sunlight brings from leaving the atmosphere to space. The more GHG concentration in the atmosphere, the hotter the earth gets. Three of the main GHG’s are carbon dioxide (CO2), methane (CH4), which is the main ingredient in natural gas, and nitrous oxide (yes, nitrous oxide, laughing gas!).
There is broad scientific consensus that the increase in CO2 concentration in the atmosphere is due primarily to man-made sources. 41% of the global CO2 emissions from fuel combustion are attributed to the electricity and heat production (power) sector according to the International Energy Agency’s 2020 World Energy Outlook. Peeling this onion a bit more, according the US Energy Information Administration, 37% of the CO2 produced from electricity generation is from gas turbines power plants. With the economic-driven decision to retire uneconomic and more carbon-intensive coal power plants, the problem of CO2 emitted from gas turbines becomes part of the conversation. Gas turbines are cleaner than coal units, but are gas turbines ‘dirty’? Isn’t just replacing coal units with gas turbines going to solve the CO2 problem? Can something be done to significantly reduce or eliminate the creation of CO2 by gas turbines? If so, can some of PSM’s innovative technology solutions support this objective?
The simple answer is an emphatic YES!!! And we are doing this in two different and exciting ways. First, our GTOP performance packages. These upgrades allow both improved output and efficiency, and with improved efficiency comes a reduction in the CO2 gas turbine emissions on a MW-hr basis. Therefore, continuing to identify and develop advanced technologies that are incorporated into our upgrade offerings will certainly help, and our customers need these solutions to support them in achieving corporate goals and emerging regulatory decarbonization mandates.
Second, PSM’s LEC-III® and FlameSheet™ retrofit combustion systems can make an even bigger reductive impact on CO2 gas turbine emissions. With the ability to consume vast and increasing amounts of green hydrogen, these combustion system platforms will allow the installed fleet of gas turbines in our markets to significantly cut their carbon footprint, with the eventual target of zero CO2 emissions. Yes, there are significant economic challenges with generating and supplying the amounts of green hydrogen required, but the hundreds of billions of dollars needed to realize this objective are starting to be invested and will drive economies of scale. Responding to market needs, and knowing the LEC-III® and FlameSheet™ platforms we provide differentiates us from our competition, our technology, and product roadmaps highlight a continued introduction of these scalable platforms, platforms that can be installed in most gas turbines between 1 MW and 500MW, with a fuel blend mix of natural gas and hydrogen, up to 100% hydrogen. It’s not a matter of ‘if’ this will happen, it’s simply a matter of when, and it is exciting to build the momentum enabling this greening industrial transformation for our customers!
Looking forward to seeing how PSM will support and enable COP26 GHG reductions!