Los Angeles Department of Water and Power’s (LADWP’s) transition from coal to natural gas and hydrogen was in focus today at the virtual Green Hydrogen Visions for the West Conference, in a talk by Martin Adams, General Manager and Chief Engineer at LADWP.
“Coal had saved us in the 80’s but now we’re looking to do something that is different and cleaner,” he told the audience. “The plan was to convert to a natural gas plant, however, during the course of that, we looked at what would be next, and that’s where the idea of hydrogen came in.”
“The talk around hydrogen back then was that we hoped it would work. But we’ve really changed how we’re looking at that now, and it’s not just that we hope it will work, but we’re counting on it to work and are doing everything we can to leverage this great opportunity.”
All of these efforts come under the departments Intermountain Power Project (IPP). The transition will start in 2025, to replace the coal-fired units at IPP, when the turbines will be commercially guaranteed capable of using a fuel mix of 30% hydrogen and 70% natural gas fuel.
Over the next 20 years, the hydrogen capability will be systematically increased to 100% renewable hydrogen, enabling carbon-free utility-scale power generation. The renewed generation facility will be owned by IPA and operated by LADWP and provide 840 megawatts (MW) of reliable energy to the IPA purchasers.
“We know that this needs to happen,” Adams exclaimed. “The advantages of this and this location are tremendous. First, we have renewable energy, and secondly there is the salt domes.”
Explaining the advantage of salt domes, Adams said, “If we’re going create hydrogen, we need to be able to store it for some amount of time and the opportunity arose through these salt domes.”
“To be able to create caverns in this salt and store large amounts of hydrogen is a unique opportunity in this location, and it is something that makes this project really have the leverage it needs to be successful.”
Adams then went on to recognise the large, experienced workforce at LADWP that have all helped to make the project possible and are working on the department’s energy transition. He explained that they have been working at the plant for years in order to keep it running and will play a key role in the company’s next steps.
Concluding his discussion, Adams said, “We need the ability to meet the demands of customers. The power industry is the one place where you have to meet demands, every second of everyday, right on the money, in order for the system to work right.”
“That being said, one of the things we have to do is replace existing systems that can respond to real time customer needs, but in a clean way. Hydrogen is really a ticket to the future and it is a project that is moving now.”