Vattenfall plans gas power station H2 switch

Article by Helen Tunnicliffe

VATTENFALL has signed a memorandum of understanding with Statoil and Gasunie to investigate converting its 1,311 MWe Magnum gas-fired power station in the Netherlands to run on hydrogen.

The Magnum power station in Eemshaven near Groningen, run by Vattenfall’s Dutch subsidiary Vattenfall Nuon, includes three combined cycle gas turbines (CCGTs). Converting them to run on hydrogen instead of natural gas could save up to 4m t/y of carbon emissions, the equivalent emissions of 2m cars.

The three companies will carry out a feasibility study to look at converting one of three CCGTs to run on hydrogen, initially. The partners will examine potential business models for the venture and will also investigate incorporating the production of hydrogen from natural gas with carbon capture and storage. The technology is known and widely used, but the challenge will be to design a large-scale value chain for the hydrogen-fired power plant. The cost is currently prohibitively high and there are limited storage options for carbon.

In 2016 the Norwegian government began a new CO2 capture, transport and storage project, finding that the Norwegian continental shelf has high storage capacity, and planning a CCS demonstration project. Vattenfall, Statoil and Gasunie believe that if the project is a success, it will open up cheaper CCS to projects like that at the Magnum plant.

“We are very excited about getting the opportunity to evaluate the possibilities of converting a gas power plant in to run on hydrogen. We are still in an early phase and like all pioneer projects there are uncertainties that need to be addressed. But the potential CO2 emission reduction is significant”, said Irene Rummelhoff, Statoil’s executive vice president for new energy solutions in Statoil.

The scheme, if it goes ahead, would link the Magnum power station to a CCS ‘cluster’, with many point sources of carbon linking up to shared infrastructure to store carbon, in this case on the Norwegian continental shelf. The UK’s CCS Research Centre (UKCCSRC) says that clusters are natural locations for all kinds of decarbonised heat and power generation and low carbon manufacturing. It is currently investigating potential cost reductions of such schemes.

“Benefits of hydrogen production in broader CCS clusters could include shared sub-systems and heat integration as well as exploitation of what would otherwise be waste energy streams. Linking hydrogen production and other industries that use CCS may also help to overcome adverse effects of short- and long-term variability in demand for electricity and hydrogen,” said UKCCSRC director Jon Gibbins.

Article by Helen Tunnicliffe

Senior reporter, The Chemical Engineer

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