Constellation sets new record for concentrations of hydrogen blended with natural gas

Published on May 25, 2023 by Chris Galford

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Furthering attempts to showcase hydrogen as an effective means of reducing greenhouse gas emissions, Constellation confirmed this week that it recently operated a blend of 38 percent hydrogen and natural gas at one of its facilities – nearly double the previous record.

Testing took place at the carbon-free energy supplier’s 753 MW combined-cycle natural gas Hillabee Generating Station in Alabama. With only minor modifications, workers were able to operate an existing natural gas plant – one 13 years old at this point – with a hydrogen blend. If used consistently, operating Hillabee at that blend rate would reduce the facility’s carbon emissions by approximately 270,000 metric tons annually and, apparently, with no nitrogen oxide emission increases either.

“This test proved what we’ve suspected for years — that blending clean hydrogen with natural gas can safely reduce emissions without major modifications to an existing plant that’s well over a decade old,” Joe Dominguez, president and CEO of Constellation, said. “As the EPA and numerous climate experts have acknowledged, the availability of affordable clean hydrogen at scale will be essential if we are going to prevent the ravaging effects of climate change.”

The test was conducted on a Siemens Energy SGT6-6000G gas turbine, so both Siemens Energy and the Electric Power Research Institute (EPRI) collaborated with Constellation on the effort. Constellation, which already produced nearly 90 percent of its energy from carbon-free sources, noted that the results of the test will inform its plans for transitioning natural gas facilities to carbon-free technology going forward.

“Siemens Energy is committed to reducing emissions from electric generation as we grow and diversify our energy mix to meet rising demand reliably, affordably and safely,” Rich Voorberg, president of Siemens Energy for North America, said. “We set an ambitious target to have all our new gas turbines capable of burning 100% hydrogen by 2030 and this demonstration shows that we are well on our way. Hydrogen is a growing part of the portfolio of technology solutions that we offer our customers.”

Building on this, EPRI’s Neva Espionoza, vice president of energy supply and low-carbon resources, called for collaborative R&D for hydrogen production, infrastructure development and power generation applications – all things that will determine the capabilities of future hydrogen deployment.