Turbo Expo 2023: Hydrogen, Gas Turbines Take Center Stage in Decarbonization

Published on: 

At "Gas Turbine’s Role in the Decarbonized Power Generation Portfolio" session at Turbo Expo 2023, industry leaders outline strategies for a sustainable future.

During Turbo Expo 2023, energy companies revealed their strategic shift toward integrating hydrogen into gas turbines during the session The Gas Turbine’s Role in the Decarbonized Power Generation Portfolio. This session was part of the broader conversation on navigating the energy transition.

In the scope of the growing recognition of hydrogen's potential as a synthetic fuel, Peter Stuttaford, CEO of Thomassen Energy B.V., revealed his company’s intent to retrofit natural gas systems with hydrogen. Europe's decision to adopt its pipeline systems to facilitate hydrogen and potentially ammonia transport underpinned these discussions. This transformation, part of the “Backbone 2025” project, aims to equip power plants with easy access to hydrogen, much like natural gas.

The idea of importing and storing ammonia/hydrogen in vast salt caverns was also addressed, highlighting an approach to gigawatt-scale energy storage. Presenters emphasized the need to retrofit existing power plants with low-carbon solutions, and the possibility of achieving high-efficiency rates of up to 80-90% in combined heat and power (CHP) applications.

Ghenadie Bulat, Siemens Energy's Head of New Technologies at Gas Services Division, argued that "the energy system of tomorrow is a mix of different energy carriers," and predicted that by 2050, electricity will account for half of energy consumption. Bulat noted that although gas will likely persist in the energy mix post-2030, regional policies will shape diverse decarbonization approaches.

Bulat emphasized the importance of managing the residual load—the gap between demand and available renewable energy. He identified gas turbines as critical in this role, maintaining energy security in times of renewable volatility, and providing rapid grid balancing. He also pointed out the opportunities for carbon capture and storage (CCS) in natural gas plants, steam methane reforming, wind hydrogen, and hydrogen derivatives like ammonia, methanol, diesel, and biofuels.


Echoing Bulat's sentiments, Fabien Codron, Tech Director, H2 Solutions for Decarb at GE Vernova, stressed that decarbonization would require bespoke solutions that consider each region's unique resources and needs. Codron also discussed the challenges of using hydrogen as a fuel, expressing optimism that technological hurdles could be overcome with research and development.

Carlos Koeneke, Chief Technology Officer of Mitsubishi Power, also presented a roadmap for decarbonization, suggesting improvements in efficiency, the integration of ammonia in boilers, the implementation of CCUS, and the use of hydrogen and ammonia in gas turbines.

The presentation concluded with discussions on the upcoming combustion tests for ammonia at a facility in Nagasaki, and the establishment of the Takasago hydrogen park, a site for hydrogen technology verification. The ongoing challenges associated with the capacity constraints of transitioning to hydrogen were also recognized, underlining the industry's urgency to find solutions.