NOTE: This article was originally published by our partners at Power Engineering International.

Technology group Wärtsilä will collaborate with the Portuguese energy solutions provider and independent power producer Capwatt to test a green hydrogen and natural gas blend fuel for a power plant located in Maia, Portugal.

The combined heat and power plant provides energy for investment firm Sonae Campus as well as the national grid and currently operates with a Wärtsilä 34SG engine running on natural gas.

The project will start in Q1, 2023 and aims to test blends of up to 10 vol.% green hydrogen. The Wärtsilä engine at the site is already capable of operating on a blend of up to 3% hydrogen. Modifications will therefore be required to the engine and control systems in order to reach the 10% target.

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“This project concretely shows how existing power plants can take steps towards carbon-neutral power generation,” stated Sushil Purohit, President, Wärtsilä Energy and EVP Wärtsilä Corporation. “As a technology, the combustion engine represents a viable solution for enabling the transformation to utilizing future fuels. The flexibility of the Wärtsilä engines already plays an important role in allowing a far greater share of renewable energy to be incorporated into power systems.”

Capwatt intends to produce green hydrogen using an electrolyser powered by renewable energy and, according to Capwatt’s CEO Sérgio Rocha, the project is a significant step towards decarbonizing the company’s operations.

This will be one of the first cases where green hydrogen is used to lessen the carbon footprint of an existing gas fueled Wärtsilä power plant.

Wärtsilä engines can be operated on hydrogen/natural gas blends with up to 25% hydrogen and the company is working towards an engine and power plant concept for pure hydrogen operations by 2025.

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