Hydrogen Serves Gas Turbine Demo, Regional Supply Hub Projects
The latest developments in hydrogen use and production include hydrogen-powered turbines, production plants, and regional supply hubs.
The carbon-neutral hydrogen production market continues to gain international interest. At a paper mill in France, Siemens Energy recently converted an industrial gas turbine to run on hydrogen. Meanwhile, U.S. energy officials unveiled $7 billion to establish regional hydrogen hubs nationwide. And Lhyfe kicked off construction on a hydrogen production plant in Germany.
A rendering of Lhyfe’s Schwäbisch Gmünd site in Germany. Image used courtesy of Lhyfe
These announcements reflect a growing interest in emissions-free renewable hydrogen—also known as green hydrogen—produced via electrolysis powered by renewables, such as wind turbines and solar installations. This differs from blue hydrogen, made from natural gas via a steam methane reforming process combined with carbon capture and storage. Both are sustainable alternatives to gray hydrogen, the most common method used today, which relies on fossil fuels without carbon capture.
Use Case: Renewable Hydrogen for Industrial Gas Turbines
As a versatile energy carrier, green hydrogen can be transformed into electricity or synthetic gas for industrial applications.
German energy giant Siemens Energy announced a significant milestone for its HYFLEXPOWER project, demonstrating the ability to produce and store 100% green hydrogen to power the company’s SGT-400 hydrogen gas turbine at a paper packaging facility in France. As a case study for energy-intensive industrial operations, the project highlights hydrogen’s flexibility as an energy storage resource and a viable concept for converting a gas-fired power turbine to one using green hydrogen.
The hydrogen is produced on-site with a 1 MW Siemens electrolyzer and stored in a tank weighing almost 1 ton. The electrolyzer, powered by renewable energy, splits water into hydrogen and oxygen to produce hydrogen, which is stored and used in the gas turbine to produce electricity.
Centrax swapped out the core engine with one for the initial demonstration in 2022. Images used courtesy of HYFLEXPOWER
Last year’s initial tests found that the gas turbine could operate with 30% hydrogen content mixed with 70% natural gas. Equipping the turbine with dry low emissions (DLE) burners allowed it to be fueled with 100% hydrogen alongside natural gas and other blends.
The demonstration used Siemens’ commercial SGT-400 product, a twin-shaft gas turbine ranging from 10 to 15 MW. More than 400 SGT-400 turbines have been sold worldwide, including industrial power generation like simple- or combined-cycle and combined heat and power applications, as well as mechanical drive components, such as compressors and pumps. Recent design advancements, including single-stage combustion, allow the turbine to burn a range of fuel compositions and efficiently run loads as low as 30% while minimizing emissions.
The engine features DLE burners capable of burning up to 10% hydrogen (by volume). However, the fuel can contain up to 65 vol% of hydrogen when the turbine is equipped with a diffusion burner.
Siemens Energy’s SGT-400 industrial gas turbine. Image used courtesy of Siemens
Siemens leads the $16.1 million HYFLEXPOWER project, partially funded by $11 million from the European Union. Several partners contributed technology and services. French utility ENGIE provided the hydrogen production, storage, and supply. U.K.-based engineering firm Centrax supplied the package upgrade to safely operate the hydrogen fuel, including swapping out the existing core engine with one supporting modest ratios of hydrogen and natural gas blends for the first demo. European consultancy Arttic helped manage the project, while the German Aerospace Center and universities in Sweden, the U.K., and Germany contributed to hydrogen turbine development. Another university in Greece ran economic, environmental, and social analyses.
Now that the project has been tested for electricity production, the consortium hopes to draw additional members and expand the scope to industrial heat production and other operational modes.
A schematic of the HYFLEXPOWER demonstrator. Image used courtesy of Siemens Energy
Karim Amin, an executive board member at Siemens Energy, said that the installation will help the company continue to develop its gas turbine fleet for hydrogen-based technologies. Now that the combination of electrolysis, storage, and hydrogen conversion has been demonstrated, scaling the results is the next step.
$7B for Regional Hydrogen Hubs
Meanwhile, in the United States, the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) announced $7 billion in funding from the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law to launch seven Regional Clean Hydrogen Hubs (H2Hubs) to accelerate commercial-scale renewable hydrogen projects. With a network of hydrogen producers, consumers, and connective infrastructure, the H2Hubs will produce 3 million metric tons of hydrogen annually, covering nearly a third of the 2030 U.S. production target while reducing carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions from industrial sectors. The seven hubs are also expected to cut 25 million metric tons of CO2 emissions from end-use sectors annually. Recipients will match the federal investments with a cost-share of over $40 billion.
Map of Regional Clean Hydrogen Hub projects. Image used courtesy of DOE
The two projects that received the most funding—up to $1.2 billion each—were the California Hydrogen Hub, which will produce hydrogen from renewable and biomass resources, and the Gulf Coast Hydrogen Hub in Texas, a large-scale hydrogen production project combining renewables-based electrolysis and natural gas with carbon capture.
Another pair of projects were awarded up to $1 billion each. The Midwest Hydrogen Hub will use renewables, natural gas, and nuclear energy for strategic hydrogen uses, including glass and steel production, power generation, and refining across Illinois, Indiana, and Michigan. The Pacific Northwest Hydrogen Hub will produce clean hydrogen exclusively through renewable-powered electrolysis in Oregon, Washington, and Montana.
Other awardees include the Heartland Hydrogen Hub (receiving $925 million), which will help decarbonize agricultural fertilizer production and employ lean hydrogen to generate electricity for space heating in Minnesota, North Dakota, and South Dakota. The Appalachian Hydrogen Hub ($925 million) will use the region’s natural gas access to make green hydrogen and permanently store the carbon emissions, including developing hydrogen pipelines, fueling stations, and CO2 storage for hydrogen distribution and storage. The Mid-Atlantic Hydrogen Hub ($750 million) will focus on repurposing oil infrastructure and existing rights-of-way to develop green hydrogen production facilities utilizing electrolyzer technologies.
France-based Lhyfe recently started constructing its 10 MW hydrogen production plant in Schwäbisch Gmünd, Germany. It’s the company’s first large production site outside of France, bringing a capacity to produce up to 4 tons of green hydrogen daily or 1,000 tonnes per year. It’s expected to be commissioned in 2024.
The facility will use electricity from wind, solar, and hydropower plants. The output will serve an industrial park and a hydrogen filling station.
As EE Power covered earlier this year, Lhyfe recently started generating its first kilograms of green hydrogen at an offshore wind-powered pilot project in the Atlantic Ocean near France. The company also partnered with ABB and Skyborn Renewables on a green hydrogen production facility powered by a Swedish offshore wind farm.