• Frankfurt CHP plant switches from lignite to hydrogen-ready gas engines

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      Greg Kelsall
MAN Energy Solutions commissions new, municipal CHP gas power-plant in Frankfurt. ©Stadtwerke Frankfurt

MAN Energy Solutions has commissioned the new, municipal (Stadtwerke) Combined Heat and Power (CHP) gas power-plant in Frankfurt (Oder), Germany. The CHP plant is powered by 5 × MAN 20V35/44G gas engines, which provide 51 MW of electrical energy as well as 50 MW of district heating. In addition, MAN has installed a hot-water boiler with a capacity of 20 MW, increasing the total thermal capacity of the plant to 70 MW. MAN and Stadtwerke Frankfurt (Oder) completed the commissioning within the estimated schedule, running the five engines from mid-February 2022.

The new power plant replaces an older CHP plant which has supplied electricity to around 33,000 households and commercial customers, as well as district heating to around 19,000 households and companies, since 1997. Previously, this plant was operated with both lignite and natural gas, whereas the new facility will supply the same distribution network with heat and electricity generated exclusively from natural gas.

According to Stadwerke Frankfurt (Oder), the new plant will save up to 50 ktCO2/y, “thus ensuring the environmentally-friendly supply of heat and electricity.  In the old power plant, around 60,000 tons of brown coal dust were burned annually. In contrast, the new plant not only exclusively uses natural gas, but is also particularly fuel-efficient with an overall efficiency of more than 90%.”  Stadtwerke Frankfurt (Oder) has invested a total of almost €60m in the power plant, representing the company’s largest investment project in the last 20 years.

“The military attack on Ukraine by the Russian government, is currently causing many people to view natural gas sceptically as an energy source,” said Dr Uwe Lauber, CEO of MAN Energy Solutions. “However, we have to separate the question of the origin of the raw material from that of the technology. Flexible, gas-fired power plants like the new CHP plant in Frankfurt are an indispensable technology on the way to the energy and heat transition. We need such facilities to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, phase out coal, and partner renewable energies.”

MAN Energy Solutions states that plant emissions can be reduced even further by operating the engines with a mixture of green hydrogen and natural gas, while completely climate-neutral operation is possible when operating with hydrogen derived, synthetic natural gas (SNG).

The MAN 20V35/44G gas engines optimise the flexibility of the entire CHP plant. In combination with a 10,000 m3 heat-storage facility, also newly built, waste heat from the engines can be stored when heat demand is low while continuing to generate electricity. This enables Stadtwerke Frankfurt (Oder) to react quickly and flexibly to price fluctuations in the electricity market. This is also supported by the high reaction speed of the MAN engines, which can reach full output in less than five minutes to cope with rapid load changes.  Post-commissioning, MAN PrimeServ will continue as project partner and share maintenance duties with plant staff.

In other news from MAN this week, the company has announced that it will invest up to €500m in its subsidiary H-TEC SYSTEMS to transform the hydrogen specialist into a mass-producer of PEM electrolysers.  Although not directly linked, hydrogen produced in this way could become the source of the SNG to decarbonise the above CHP power plant.

“Our plan is clear,” explained Uwe Lauber, CEO of MAN Energy Solutions. “We are transforming H-TEC SYSTEMS into one of the world’s leading players in the field of PEM electrolysis. Over the next five to ten years, green hydrogen will become one of the most important primary energy sources for the global economy as it continues to decarbonise.”