World’s largest hydrogen fuel blending project completed

By Becky Schultz13 June 2022

Georgia Power’s Plant McDonough-Atkinson power plant (Photo: Georgia Power)

Mitsubishi Power and Georgia Power, along with the Electric Power Research Institute (EPRI), have validated fuel blending of hydrogen and natural gas at both partial and full load on an M501G natural gas turbine at Georgia Power’s Plant McDonough-Atkinson in Smyrna, Georgia. The demonstration project is said to be the first to validate 20%* hydrogen fuel blending on an advanced class gas turbine in North America, according to an announcement issued by the organizations, and the largest test of its kind to date.

The 20% blend was shown to provide a roughly 7% reduction in carbon emissions compared to natural gas. “Accelerating low-carbon technology development is essential to achieve net-zero targets by mid-century. This successful hydrogen demonstration test reinforces the significant, game-changing role that this and other low-carbon technologies can play to help reach economy-wide decarbonization,” said Neva Espinoza, vice president of Energy Supply and Low-Carbon Resources, at EPRI, an independent, non-profit energy research and development organization that supported development of the project. “EPRI’s future-focused collaboration with Georgia Power and Mitsubishi Power Americas is helping bring net-zero goals within reach.”

Flow control skid for hydrogen blending (Photo: Georgia Power)

Georgia Power’s Plant McDonough-Atkinson facility, located less than 10 miles from downtown Atlanta, has served electric customers for more than 80 years. It was fully converted to natural gas in 2012 and expanded to power up to 1.7 million homes. It currently operates six large-capacity M501G series gas turbines as well as three steam turbines running in three blocks of 2-on-1 combined-cycle configuration.

For the hydrogen fuel blending project, Mitsubishi Power provided full turnkey service including engineering, planning, hydrogen blending hardware, controls, commissioning and risk management. It partnered with Certarus to source and manage the hydrogen supply. Southern Company’s R&D organization – which engages in research focused on low-carbon hydrogen power generation, production, delivery, transportation, infrastructure and energy storage – served as technical consultant.

Hydrogen blending was completed on one gas turbine unit with approximate output of 265 MW by utilizing some results of a project commissioned by the New Energy and Industrial Technology Development Organization (NEDO), Japan’s national research and development agency. In announcing the results, Mitsubishi Power noted the dry low NOX (DLN) hydrogen blending was successful at up to 20% at the designed 100% natural gas firing temperature; within emissions compliance for the existing air permit; and without impact on maintenance intervals. The team also confirmed improved turndown by testing up to 20% hydrogen at minimum emissions-compliant load.

Plant McDonough-Atkinson control room (Photo: Georgia Power)

“This demonstration helps pave the way for long-term clean and carbon-free use for already existing infrastructure. Making these smart investments today on behalf of our customers ensures we can continue to provide clean, safe, reliable and affordable energy as Georgia grows and thrives for decades to come,” said Allen Reaves, senior vice president and senior production officer, Georgia Power. “This kind of research and development not only delivers long-term value for our customers, but also helps drive the entire energy industry forward toward a cleaner, carbon-free future. We’re proud to be playing an important role in that and excited about what we’ve been able to accomplish with our partner, Mitsubishi Power Americas.”

The project also builds upon Mitsubishi Power’s hydrogen combustion experience and ongoing hydrogen combustion development for 100% hydrogen DLN combustion at the company’s facility at Takasago Works in Hyogo Prefecture, Japan. This site encompasses the development, design and manufacture of gas turbines, as well as demonstration and verification. The overall objective is to work toward commercialization of reliable, carbon-free power generation technologies and products, including tests and collaboration with partners globally on a path to 100% hydrogen firing for small- and large-frame gas turbines.

“Mitsubishi Power is dedicated to our mission of providing power generation and storage solutions to our customers, empowering them to affordably and reliably combat climate change and advance human prosperity,” said Mark Bissonnette, executive vice president and chief operating officer, Power Generation, Mitsubishi Power Americas. “The hydrogen blending demonstration project at Plant McDonough-Atkinson brings us closer to reaching net-zero goals across the industry.”

* The ratio of hydrogen content indicates volume ratio.

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