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Prospects for using hydrogen in gas power plants become tangible

Published by , Editorial Assistant
Global Hydrogen Review,

EnBW and Siemens Energy are jointly driving the trend of using green hydrogen as a climate-friendly fuel in future power plants. One important pilot project is the EnBW district heating power plant in Stuttgart-Münster, Germany, where natural gas is expected to initially replace coal in approximately three years. All systems are constructed from the very beginning in such a way that the natural gas can be replaced with hydrogen as quickly and completely as possible. Two cutting-edge SGT-800 gas turbines from Siemens Energy are at the heart of the installation. The agreement on the overall package has been sealed in Stuttgart. The project in the Baden-Württemberg capital is thus taking on a pioneering role nationwide.

“The fuel switch from coal to gas in Münster is an important building block that will allow us to continue to have sufficient power generating capacity in the coming years,” EnBW Managing Board Member Georg Stamatelopoulos emphasised. “This is the only way we can support the expansion of renewable energy. Today’s agreement shows that we’re taking the next step very seriously. Over the medium term, we’ll be replacing gas as a fossil fuel with hydrogen. We’re already laying the groundwork today. This contributes to our goal of first significantly reducing our company’s CO2 emissions and then becoming climate-neutral by 2035.”

Siemens Energy Managing Board Member, Tim Holt, says: “Hydrogen-fired gas power plants have an important role to play in the future energy mix. Hydrogen makes it possible to store energy generated by wind and solar farms, to transport this energy, to convert it back into electricity, and to use it where it’s needed. Our hydrogen-capable turbines give our customers the greatest possible flexibility when it comes to choosing their fuel while also protecting their investment.”

The two new turbines each have an electrical output of 62 MW and a downstream waste heat recovery system. They are replacing the three coal-fired boilers that have been at the location until now. The project teams at both companies are also planning for hydrogen’s future beyond the gas turbines. “Pipelines, control systems, and boiler technology also have to be converted as quickly and easily as possible when green hydrogen is available,” EnBW engineer, Diana van den Bergh, explained. EnBW is looking at a timeframe of 10 – 12 years. In the agreements, Siemens Energy provides assurance that the new turbines will be able to process up to a 75% hydrogen admixture from the time they are shipped in 2025, and the overall package is prepared to handle 100% hydrogen.

“We can’t yet reliably predict when green hydrogen will be available in sufficient quantity and at affordable prices,” EnBW Managing Board Member, Georg Stamatelopoulos, explained. “But the technology should be in place by that time. We’re not going to put the cart before the horse. Which, by the way, is the objective in all our fuel switch projects.”

The plans for the overall project in Münster are currently on schedule. Progress is already being made on building a new workshop building that will provide space for the actual construction site. Once all the approvals have been obtained, the work on the new systems could begin in the first quarter of 2023. Residual waste is and will remain the most important energy source in Münster. The city recycles approximately 450 000 tpy of this waste and converts it into electricity and heat. Together with the new gas turbines, the location will continue to form the backbone of the power and district heating supply system in the central Neckar region, along with the power plants in Stuttgart-Gaisburg and Altbach/Deizisau. After the fuel switch in Münster and its sister project in Altbach, energy will no longer be generated from coal in the Stuttgart region starting in 2025/26.

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