Exclusive interview with Kiewit Engineering Group

Exclusive interview with Kiewit Engineering Group

For Rick Gasaway, Manager of Hydrogen, PV, and Microgrid Technologies at Kiewit Engineering Group, hydrogen education and safety is a priority.

As more and more consumer facing hydrogen systems go into service, he says having respected, safety leading partners in place to design and install hydrogen systems will be critical to hydrogen industry success.

“Likewise, many industries will be exposed to hydrogen systems for the first time, or at a level far greater than they have in the past,” he tells H2 View. “Safety comes above all else. To us, nothing is more important than the safety of the men and women on our project sites and the surrounding public.”

Gasaway has been in his role at Kiewit, one of North America’s largest construction and engineering organisations for nearly three years and has 28 years overall in the Energy Industry. With its roots dating back to 1884, the employee-owned organisation operates throughout a network of subsidiaries in the US, Canada and Mexico.

At Kiewit, no job is too large or too small—the company delivers world-class solutions to projects of every size with quality, environmental stewardship and with the utmost safety—all qualities which are critical to the success of the hydrogen and fuel cell industry.

Currently, Kiewit is pursuing work in three areas of hydrogen infrastructure growth:

  • Hydrogen as a co-fired or clean combustion fuel in industrial and utility scale combustion turbines, or hydrogen as feedstock to large stationary fuel cells – Power electrical infrastructure is a core business to Kiewit and pioneering new ways to reduce carbon impacts is not only great for the environment, but a realistic way for the power industry to transition to cleaner electricity that can be dispatched when power is needed. Eventually, the goal for leading turbine suppliers is to be manufacturing 100% hydrogen capable equipment, across all multi-megawatt machines at a scale that rivals traditional equipment. Kiewit anticipates a key role in the market through engineering and construction services as this market continues to evolve.
  • Hydrogen as energy storage –Kiewit anticipates hydrogen as a core technology to efficiently expand power grid storage from hours, to days, weeks, and even seasonal shifting of renewable energy storage in northern latitudes.
  • Hydrogen as fuel for transportation purposes – After years of anticipation, today the market for hydrogen fuelling appears ready and viable. Kiewit envisions hydrogen as a growing segment of the electric vehicle market, through hydrogen fuel cells as the DC electric power provider to the drivetrain. Where short refuelling times, greater vehicle uptime and longer range are desired, hydrogen fuel cells can make a great complementary option to batteries.

Gasaway points out that comparatively a kilogram of hydrogen gas contains the same amount of energy as a gallon of gasoline, “Considering the fuel cell can be approximately twice as efficient as an internal combustion engine (ICE), the cost per mile is a lot closer to present values than people realise. This could be a game changer.”

Thousand Palms

“An exciting project Kiewit is on the verge of completing construction on is the SunLine Transit hydrogen bus fuelling station in Thousand Palms, California,” Gasaway explains.

“When it goes active, it will be one of the largest on-site PEM electrolysis based hydrogen bus fuelling stations in the world, capable of fully fuelling more than 25 fuel cell transit buses per day, with fuelling times comparable to traditional diesel buses.”

“There remains a plethora of additional opportunities in California and we have been involved in project discussions across the US. Kiewit intends to nurture a growing involvement in designing and building hydrogen fuelling infrastructure throughout the US and Canada.”

Looking to the future, Gasaway says the growth of clean ‘green’ hydrogen technologies in greater scale, efficiency and cost reduction, warrants great excitement.

“Leading the way are improvements in electrolysis-based hydrogen generating solutions in the near term, which coupled with rapid growth in renewable electrical power generation, creates an avenue for effectively carbon-free energy systems at scale,” he says.

“This is potentially game-changing in the markets of clean bulk energy storage, and hydrogen fuel cell transportation.”

“In the longer term, Kiewit is monitoring the growth of other clean or more efficient hydrogen generating technologies that can accelerate the hydrogen market even faster.”

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