© Wärtsilä
© Wärtsilä

Centrica starts construction of UK hydrogen-ready power plant

Centrica has started construction of its hydrogen-ready gas power peaking power plant in Lincolnshire, UK.

The firm said it is installing four Wärtsilä gas engines in the former turbine hall of the decommissioned Brigg Power Station to offer almost 100MW of power production to meet peak demand.

The British company is set to begin trials later this year to blend hydrogen into the gas, going from 3% blend to a 20% blend, before aiming to become 100% hydrogen in the long-term and deploy similar tech across all peaking plants.

Read more:Centrica and HiiROC to inject hydrogen at gas-fired power station in UK

Construction work at the Brigg Energy Park is expected to last about nine months, with full operations anticipated in early 2025.

H2 View understands that once the peaking plant is operational and connected to the grid, Wärtsilä’s 31SG gas engines will provide the capacity to power 20,000 homes for a full day when required.

Chris O’Shea, Group Chief Executive at Centrica, said that gas will play an essential role in the UK’s electricty supply when renewable generation is low.

Kenneth Engblom, Vice-President Africa & Europe at Wärtsilä Energy, added, “This installation will help enable the use of clean renewable energy by providing the needed grid balancing.

“Wärtsilä 31 engine platform is renowned for its high efficiency, and the engines are future-proof to run on a hydrogen blend.”

In 2022, the Finnish firm announced success from a hydrogen blending trial at a US power plant, where its unmodified 18MW 50SG engine supplied power to the grid while running on a hydrogen blend.

Hydrogen blending: A balance of benefits

While the direct use of hydrogen in many of the applications discussed in this ‘Grid Balancing and Energy Security’ issue is often seen as the end goal, there has been growing excitement over the prospect of blending hydrogen with natural gas as an interim step to lower emissions in the shorter term.

In theory, blending the two gases will lower the emissions from natural gas grids while allowing existing infrastructure to be used, serving end-users where electrification is uneconomic.

From boilers and gas turbines to industrial processes and more, the idea of blending has been bounced around in a variety of geographies, with many policy-led projects exploring the pathway’s potential.

The US Department of Energy (DOE) in 2020 launched its HyBlend project to accelerate the potential for blending hydrogen in natural gas pipelines. Led by the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL), the project would carry out R&D to address the technical barriers of blending.

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