The energy transition is not making things easy for gas-fired power plants. On the one hand, they are supposed to ensure a steady supply of electricity and heat when there is no wind or sunshine. On the other, by burning a fossil-based source of energy, the plants themselves release harmful CO2 emissions. “Operators therefore want to get their facilities ready for hydrogen, gradually blending more of it into the natural gas, to lower the overall carbon content of the fuel,” explains Cory Marcon, Power & Energy Industry Marketing Manager at Endress+Hauser USA.
PRECISE CONTROL FOR EFFICIENT PLANT OPERATION
A trailblazer on this road to climate neutrality is the combined gas and steam cycle power plant operated by Long Ridge Energy in Hannibal, Ohio. The 485 MW facility is the first in the world built with the goal of utilizing pure hydrogen mixed in with natural gas. The conversion requires first and foremost a good process control system: hydrogen has different physical properties than natural gas, so it combusts differently. It also has a lower volumetric energy content. For these reasons, the mixture must be precisely controlled to ensure safe and efficient operation of the plant.
This is where Long Ridge Energy places its trust in Endress+Hauser. The solution relies on two innovative technologies. The Promass Q Coriolis flowmeter provides highly accurate mass flow, density and volumetric flow measurements, even when process conditions fluctuate. This helps to ensure that hydrogen is injected at a stable rate. A Raman Rxn5 in-line analyser determines the gas composition of the blend and thus indirectly its energy content, allowing the integrity of the fuel blending system to be validated almost in real time.
Long Ridge Energy had already successfully blended the natural gas with 5 percent hydrogen on multiple occasions. Drawing on these experiences and findings from the installation, Endress+Hauser developed a hydrogen blending skid for natural gas fuel systems and pipelines, thus enabling automation of the process. Proving that Long Ridge Energy’s pioneering spirit lives on, the company plans to fire the power plant completely with hydrogen by the year 2030.
Text: Christine Böhringer, Endress+Hauser