A British energy start-up, has developed a technology with the potential to turn loss-making gas-fired power stations back to profit and greatly reduce their environmental impact, making them once more commercially viable for operators and a realistic contributor to national power generation strategies.
Co-fired with natural gas, the hydrogen will dramatically reduce both operating costs and carbon emissions for power stations.
The process creates hydrogen and oxygen, using conventional energy sources, with an efficiency not seen before and in sufficient volumes to replace up to 20% of the natural gas needed to fuel a power-generating gas turbine.
Since 2013, VN-HPG has been developing a hydrogen production process, using patented Electro Hydrogen Generator technology.
The Electro Hydrogen Generator (EHG) uses a unique combination of centrifugal force, magnetic force and conventional electrolysis. When combined, these produce a more efficient level of hydrogen generation. The hydrogen is then compressed and stored onsite, for future use, or fed directly to the gas turbine and co-fired with natural gas.
The hydrogen not only replaces a significant percentage of the conventional fuel but increases the burn efficiency of the gas turbine. It is a mark of further efficiency that the energy for the process comes from the power generator’s own waste energy streams.
Mick Avison, VN-HPG Technical Director, said: “The profitability of gas-fired stations has collapsed in recent years, destabilised by natural gas prices, emissions fines and the rise of renewable generation.
“This has led operators to mothball or shut their plants down, and there’s absolutely no motive to invest in new ones. At the same time, coal-fired stations are also being withdrawn, threatening a generating capacity shortfall in the UK and many other countries.
“VN-HPG’s proposals could therefore transform the fortunes not only of operators but of national generating capacities, as well as significantly reducing CO2 emissions.
“The potential for VN-HPG is clearly demonstrated in financial projections for this plant, which take it from its current EBITDA of -€8m to potential profits in excess of €41m a year. Profitable, cleaner gas-fired power generation is looking commercially viable.”
Stage 1 prototype trials were completed and tested successfully in 2014. Stage 2 development is now complete, having produced new EHG designs, a manufactured prototype and preliminary testing, leading to a direct drive EHG capable of scaling up to operate with a 11.25MW target gas turbine.
Avison added: “We are now negotiating to buy a mothballed 50MW gas-fired power station in Italy, where the next stage will be development and integration of an industrial-scale EHG into the existing infrastructure of two 11.25MW gas turbines, with the goal of commercial energy production and sales.