• New Horizon 2020 project to look at potential role of hydrogen and ammonia in P2X2P solutions

    Date posted:

    • Post Author

      Philip Sharman

      IFRF Director

A four-year project involving several IFRF member organisations that aims to develop and demonstrate innovative, economically-viable and replicable ‘Power-to-X-to-Power’ (P2X2P) solutions has just commenced with support from the European Commission’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme.

FLEXnCONFU – ‘FLEXibilize combined cycle power plant through Power-to-X solutions using nonCONventional Fuels’ will examine all available options for the effective and flexible use of surplus power from renewable energy sources (RES) for levelling power plant load through converting electricity into hydrogen or ammonia prior to converting it back to power.  This will enable the design and operation of an integrated power plant layout that can unlock additional combined cycle (CC) flexibility.  The project, which has a total budget of €12.6 million, commenced on 1 April and will run until 31 March 2024, bringing together the entire supply chain involved in centralised power generation.

In order to achieve the EU’s 2030 and 2050 Climate and Energy ‘goals’, a high penetration of RES into the grid is required, as well as the use of alternative carbon-free fuels in already-existing ‘dispatchable’ centralised power plants.  Combined cycle gas turbine (CCGT) plants will be a crucial technology, offering the required flexibility to compensate for the intermittency of RES.  The injection of alternative fuels (i.e. hydrogen and ammonia) would help enable the required ‘fuel switching’ that EU countries recognise as necessary, drastically reducing carbon and hydrocarbon emissions which are more difficult to manage compared to NOx emissions.  Currently widely-studied P2X solutions relevant to RES could help CC plant in levelling their load and reducing their environmental impact.  Hence, developing suitable technologies and solutions to couple P2X2P systems with gas turbines (GTs) will be very important to power generation systems in a net-zero carbon world.

FLEXnCONFU, which covers the entire value chain, is a pioneer ‘demonstration-to-market’ project that will contribute to the valorisation of European GT and Power-to-Gas (P2G) scientific and technological competencies, and, ultimately, to the creation of a clean hydrogen/ammonia society.  Within the scope of the project, levelling the CC load could be achieved by converting the electricity generated into carbon-free fuels (hydrogen or ammonia) via P2X2P applications, to then be re-used in the same power plant to respond to varying demand.  This solution will be demonstrated up to Technology Readiness Level (TRL) 6 deploying a power-to-ammonia system in a relevant environment (a micro gas turbine operating in a smart grid context at Savona Combustion Lab) and up to TRL 7 installing a power-to-hydrogen system in a real operational environment (at EDP’s Ribatejo power plant).  To exploit the potential of ammonia combustion in reducing CO2 emission, combustion tests involving up to 100% ammonia will be performed in a heavy-duty representative GT combustion system (at Cardiff University’s Gas Turbine Test Centre).  It is hoped that the new FLEXnCONFU configuration will unlock the current situation of low-operating-hour CCGT power plants by providing secure back-up and improving CC flexibility as well as overall efficiency, allowing a smoother operation and reducing air pollutant emissions.  The FLEXnCONFU system should be capable of being coupled with both combined heat and power CC and natural gas CC, as well as to an integrated (coal) gasification combined cycle IGCC) power plant, guaranteeing a wide replicability potential and a cleaner EU fossil-fuel-based power plant fleet.

The Project consortium has 21 partner organisations from 10 European countries (Italy, Portugal, UK, Spain, France, Greece, Germany, Belgium, Sweden and the Netherlands) and is led by RINA Consulting of Italy.  This consortium is well-balanced in terms of involvement of industrial partners and SMEs, together with academic and research institutions.  The industrial partners are: RINA Consulting (Italy), EDP Gestão da Produção de Energia (Portugal), Centre for New Energy Technologies – NEW R&D (Portugal), Baker Hughes (Italy), MAS Advanced Technologies for Power and Energy (Greece), Hydrogenics (part of the Cummins family) (Belgium), Proton Ventures (the Netherlands), Tirreno Power (Italy), ENGIE Laborelec (Belgium) and ICI Caldaie (Italy).  The academic and research institution partners are: Centre for Research & Technology Hellas – CERTH (Greece), Fundación CIRCE – Centro De Investigación de Recursos Y Consumos Energéticos (Spain), Università di Genova (Italy), Cardiff University (UK), Technische Universität Darmstadt (Germany), Université catholique de Louvain (Belgium), KTH Royal Institute of Technology (Sweden), Commissariat A L Energie Atomique Et Aux Energies Alternatives (France), Eindhoven University of Technology (the Netherlands) and Université D’Orléans (France).  The European Turbine Network (ETN) are also an associated partner of the project.  Furthermore, a FLEXnCONFU ‘Users Group’, consisting of end-user organisations and experts in the field, will be created and led by ETN to follow the development of the project in order to ensure a high awareness and replicability in the market.

Further information on this project can be found at the EC’s Cordis website.