A project that has transformed a former aluminium smelter on the banks of the Ohio River in the US into a major 485MW facility that will run on carbon-free hydrogen has moved into its startup phase.
Long Ridge Energy Terminal this week said the plant is on track to be fully operational in early September, with hydrogen set to be introduced in November.
The facility first will burn a fuel blend that includes 5% hydrogen in a General Electric Co. H-class gas turbine.
The plant is intended to transition to 100% green hydrogen over the next decade by relying increasingly on renewable energy to power electrolysis machines that split water into its hydrogen and oxygen elements.
The project has access to industrial byproduct hydrogen for initial testing, according to Long Ridge, but the company is partnering with New Fortress Energy for the green hydrogen transition.
It is also exploring underground salt formations for large-scale hydrogen storage.
The project is the centrepiece of an intended sweeping makeover of the industrial site, where Long Ridge also plans to develop a 125-acre data centre campus with 300MW of capacity.
Advocates hope the project marks the beginning of a new era for hydrogen in helping to decarbonise the power sector and other areas of the economy.
Major global equipment suppliers Mitsubishi, Siemens and Wärtsilä, numerous big US electric and gas utilities and a host of project developers are also placing big bets on hydrogen.
Several additional US natural gas-hydrogen hybrid power projects are underway, the largest of which is the Intermountain Power Agency’s planned conversion of an existing coal plant into an 840MW combined-cycle gas facility by 2025 that would combust up to 30% hydrogen and gradually move to only green hydrogen.
Most of the plant’s output is under contract with the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power.