Hillabee generating station in Alabama was fired with a 38% hydrogen blend. [Image: Sargent & Lundy]

By Dale Lunan

Constellation Energy, the largest producer of carbon-free energy in the US, said May 24 it had set an industry record for blending high concentrations of hydrogen into natural gas for power generation.

Working with Siemens Energy and the Electric Power Research Institute (EPRI), Constellation used a blend of 38% hydrogen to fire a Siemens Energy SGT6-6000G gas turbine at its 753-MW combined cycle gas turbine (CCGT) Hillabee Generating Station in Alabama, which went into service in 2010.

The test showed that with only minor modifications, an existing natural gas plant of that age can safely operate on a blend of up to 38% hydrogen, nearly doubling the previous record for similar generators.

New guidelines from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) cite hydrogen blending as a primary technology to help the US achieve its climate goals. 

“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,” Constellation CEO Joe Dominguez said.

If the 38% blend rate was used throughout the Hillabee plant, its carbon emissions would be reduced by about 270,000 metric tons/year, with no measurable increase in nitrogen oxide emissions. 

“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,” said Rich Voorberg, president of Siemens Energy in North America. “Hydrogen is a growing part of the portfolio of technology solutions that we offer our customers.”