“hydrogen Power: Unveiling Its Potential As A Clean Gas And Electricity Source” – Deep decarbonisation of the energy system will not be possible without burning clean H2 to produce electricity, senior executives from Siemens Energy and Equinor tell Recharge.

Why would anyone use renewable energy to produce green hydrogen and then burn it to produce electricity? The round-trip efficiency would be less than 40%, so every 10 kWh of wind or solar energy would provide less than 4 kWh of electricity.

“hydrogen Power: Unveiling Its Potential As A Clean Gas And Electricity Source”

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And why would anyone create blue hydrogen from natural gas with carbon capture and storage (CCS) – with all the added expense of methane reforming and compression/liquefaction, transportation and storage of the hard-to-process H.

However, major energy companies such as Siemens Energy, Equinor and SSE believe that hydrogen-powered power plants have a bright future. Why?

Germany’s Siemens Energy, which was spun off from its parent company Siemens last year, now offers customers hydrogen-powered power plant solutions.

“If I have renewable energy, convert it to hydrogen and re-electrify with an overall cycle efficiency of less than 40%, this obviously only makes sense if you use hydrogen as long-term storage and compensation for fluctuating renewables.” says Erik Zindel , Siemens Energy’s vice president of hydrogen production sales.

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“If you really want to [store energy] for days, weeks, months, or for seasonal storage that uses solar energy from summer to winter or wind energy from fall to summer, you have to store electricity in a chemical way.

“You still need [clean] power for the dark periods in the winter, when there’s no sun and no wind for two or three weeks — you have to supply hydrogen.”

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He tells Recharge that large-scale hydrogen storage will also be useful for reducing wind and solar power loss during windy/sunny periods.

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“Once you get into the green hydrogen arena, you can increase the amount of renewables you want to put on the grid because you can use excess renewables [that would otherwise be limited because they can’t be sold],” Zindel. explains.

And oxygen] and by being able to store that excess energy as hydrogen, you can really allow the electrical system to greatly expand renewable energy sources. Because if you don’t, it will quickly become limited because there will be too much excess energy that you have to throw away.

“But once you can tap into that excess capacity, you can really double, triple, quadruple the amount of renewable energy you want to create.”

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Norwegian oil giant Equinor and Scottish company SSE recently announced plans to build a brand new 1.8GW hydrogen-powered power station at Kidby in northeast England as soon as the end of this decade. The companies say it would almost certainly be powered by low-carbon blue hydrogen and used to support variable renewable energy, possibly offshore wind.

Henrik Solgaard Andersen, Equinor’s vice president for low-carbon technologies, tells Recharge that capturing carbon in the pre-combustion stage is more cost-effective than capturing it after combustion in a gas-fired power plant.

The concentration is very low… so it’s very difficult,” he explains. “It’s like finding a needle in a haystack. And the more [CO

In a blue hydrogen plant compared to an afterburner because the pressure is so high—so you can go down to [97-98%].

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At a gas-fired power station that would only operate less than 50% of the time – the same as Kidby’s back-up station.

“We think that all these starts and stops would mean that the capture device would heat up and cool down too much, so it wouldn’t be able to capture as much CO

He adds: “No one has run a dispatch power plant with CCS before. No one really knows what the power efficiency and capture speed will be. So there are some uncertainties.”

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While Equinor and SSE plan to build a brand new hydrogen power plant, Siemens Energy bases its business model on the conversion of existing fossil gas power plants as well as the construction of new “hydrogen ready” combined cycle gas power plants. fired equipment.

It would be “fairly cheap,” says Zindel, using pure hydrogen to generate electricity today “doesn’t make economic sense.”

Was available at €2 ($2.35) per kg to make it competitive with fossil gas, “would require CO

The price is between 200 and 250 euros per ton, so it’s still a long way off,” says Zindel. At the time of publication, the EU carbon price was around EUR 53 per tonne.

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Zindel believes that pure hydrogen will not be used for large-scale electricity generation until 2035 — in part because it would be more cost-effective to use this H.

“We expect hydrogen electrification to happen on a large scale in the 2035s or 2040s, when we really need to go for a deep decarbonization of the energy sector,” he says.

Equinor has said its Kidby hydrogen facility will only operate “if appropriate policy mechanisms are in place”. In other words, if it is heavily subsidized.

“We have a market failure,” Andersen tells Recharge. “So we’re working on a business model that’s probably more geared toward some kind of producer agreement for differences. So suppliers would pay a price for natural gas, and those who produce blue hydrogen would get some sort of subsidy to cover [the additional cost].

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“For a variety of reasons,” Zindel says. “The first is that we know this is the future, so we have to start working now, and our plan is to achieve 100% H

By the end of the decade – so it will be available when we get the first real commercial projects.

“We expect combined cycle power plants to be the primary technology of choice for residual load in a fully decarbonized power scenario where these combined cycles will only operate 20-30% of the time – no more, because you’ll have enough wind and solar in the system.

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He continues: “The second and more important point is that our customers today need to build power plants for natural gas. So if you have a natural gas power plant under construction today with commercial operation in, say, 2023-2024. , the typical life expectancy [means]… these power plants will still be operating in the 2050s when we are expected to be fully decarbonized.

“This means that every new [gas] power plant that will be built in the future will very likely have to be upgraded to burn hydrogen in the future. So it is very important that we prepare the plants for this today. This is what we call the ‘hydrogen-ready concept.’ [So] we make sure we have the right materials, the right electrical equipment, [and] we have enough room for additional systems [that will be needed when the facility is converted to work with H

“We see that, at least in Europe, almost every customer is talking about hydrogen readiness for their new power plants. But other regions of the world are also now becoming very aggressive [about carbon reduction]. Therefore, it is a very important topic in our industry.

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“They’ve seen nuclear plants being decommissioned long before the end of their commercial and technical life — now they’re also seeing coal plants being taken off the grid … they’re a bit fed up [of having] ballast assets, so they want to make sure , that the combined cycles created today are future-proof.

Hydrogen has different properties than natural gas—for example, it is a smaller molecule, has a lower energy density, and causes brittleness in steel—so various changes will need to be made to run a gas-fired power plant on H.

“The lower bulk density mainly affects all the upstream equipment – the gas turbine, the fuel gas system, you would need fuel pipes with an increased diameter,” explains Zindel.

“So if you know that the power plant will have to run on hydrogen in the future, you can build larger diameter pipes [in the first

Media: Press Release

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