Decarbonizing power generation

GE’s hydrogen experience is unparalleled

GE gas turbines have experience operating on fuels with hydrogen content ranging from 5% (by volume) up to 100%.

More experience in more places

According to the latest McCoy Power Report, GE has more experience running gas turbines on hydrogen than any other OEM. In total, GE has 100+ gas turbines supporting power generation with hydrogen and associated fuels around the world. GE has combustion technologies that are capable of operating on a wide range of hydrogen concentrations up to ~100% (by volume).

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Converting a gas turbine to a hydrogen turbine

The use of hydrogen as a gas turbine fuel has been demonstrated commercially, but there are differences between natural gas and hydrogen that must be taken into account to properly and safely use hydrogen in a gas turbine. With decades of experience running our entire fleet of gas turbines on varying levels of hydrogen—and with a path towards running on 100% hydrogen—GE has mastered operating hydrogen safely.

Burning hydrogen: Things to consider

In addition to differences in the combustion properties of hydrogen and natural gas, it's also important to consider the impact to all gas turbine systems, as well as the overall balance of plant. In a power plant with one or more hydrogen-fueled turbines, changes may be needed to the fuel accessories, bottoming cycle components, and plant safety systems. GE’s broad field experience enables our engineers to understand the impact of using hydrogen as a gas turbine fuel.

As gas turbines are inherently fuel-flexible, they can be configured to operate on green hydrogen or similar fuels as a new unit, or be upgraded even after extended service on traditional fuels, i.e. natural gas. The scope of the required modifications to configure a gas turbine to operate on hydrogen depends on the initial configuration of the gas turbine and the overall balance of plant, as well as the desired hydrogen concentration in the fuel.

Frequently asked questions

Learn more about hydrogen and GE’s capabilities

Production

What are the different methods of hydrogen production?

A color-based convention is being used internationally to describe and differentiate hydrogen production methods:

  • Grey (or black): Gasification of coal or reforming of natural gas without carbon capture
  • Blue: Reforming of methane (SMR) with carbon capture and storage
  • Green: Electrolysis of water using renewable power
  • Pink (Red): Electrolysis of water using nuclear power
  • Turquoise: Pyrolysis of methane which produces hydrogen and solid carbon as a by-product
  • White: Gasification or other process using 100% biomass as a feedstock

See our hydrogen solutions page to learn about how we can help enable the production of green hydrogen.

What are the costs of these methods of hydrogen production?

The cost of hydrogen produced by these different methods can vary widely with grey (or black) typically being the least expensive. 

The price for hydrogen produced using the electrolytic processes (i.e., green, pink, red) depends primarily on the cost of the electricity used in the process and the utilization rate, or capacity factor of the electrolyzers. If you'd like to learn more about the resources required and opportunities when considering hydrogen fueled gas turbines, check out our calculator tool.

Technology

Can you retrofit an existing power plant to run on hydrogen fuel?

Yes, it is possible to operate new units and upgrade existing units for operation on these fuels with appropriate consideration to the combustion system, fuel accessories, emissions, and plant systems. For existing units, these upgrades can be scheduled with planned outages to minimize the time the plant is not generating power, and for new units these capabilities can be part of the initial plant configuration or phased in over time as hydrogen becomes available. 

When it comes to operating a gas turbine on hydrogen, what safety measures need to be taken into consideration?

Because hydrogen is more flammable than natural gas, critical aspects are considered to ensure the safe operation of a gas turbine with a natural gas/hydrogen fuel blend. For example, the gas turbine enclosure and ventilation system need to be designed to ensure the concentration of hydrogen is maintained outside of its upper and lower explosive limits. 

Furthermore, hazardous gas and flame detection systems configured for typical hydrocarbon fuels may need to be supplemented with systems capable of detecting hydrogen. 

There are other changes/upgrades that must be considered if you're thinking about safely running your powerplant on a hydrogen blend. If you'd like to learn more, get in touch with our team.

What is GE's stance on hydrogen and other decarbonization technologies?

GE is continuing to develop increased hydrogen capability for its gas turbines through in-house R&D and testing as well as participating in US DOE hydrogen fuel programs. The goals of these efforts are to ensure that ever higher levels of hydrogen can be burned safely and reliably in GE’s gas turbines for decades to come.

We continue to support the global need for deep decarbonization, and recognize that there are multiple pathways to achieve low or near zero carbon emissions with gas turbines--through various pre or post-combustion methods. To learn more about this, you can read our whitepaper.

Storage, transportation and implementation

How can hydrogen be stored?

Hydrogen is difficult to store because of its extremely low volumetric density. It is the simplest, lightest and most abundant element in the universe. It is also extremely flammable… All of these qualities combined make its logistics and transportation very complicated.

Hydrogen must become energy dense to be stored. It can be compressed and stored as a gas using high-pressure tanks, or it can be liquefied using cryogenic technology. 

Hydrogen is typically compressed to between 35 to 150 bar (~500 to ~2,200 psi) for pipeline transmission whereas the distribution system that provides gas to many end users typically operates at pressures less than ~7 bar (~100 psi). For storage, hydrogen is typically compressed to more than 350 bar (~5,000 psi. Hydrogen storage and transmission systems may require specialized high-pressure equipment and will require a significant amount of energy for compression. Liquefying hydrogen is even more of a challenge because it condenses from a gas into a liquid at less than -250º C (~-420º F), requiring a significant amount of energy for cooling the gas to this temperature, and special double-walled cryogenic tanks for storage.

Which countries are currently taking the lead in advancing the hydrogen economy and how are they doing it?

Countries like Japan, South Korea, Australia and more, are taking the lead in advancing a hydrogen economy by announcing strategies, implementing government policy, making major infrastructure investments, and conducting supply chain research.

How can hydrogen be transported?

It can be transported in cryogenic liquid tanker trucks or gaseous tube trailers where demand is smaller. Major infrastructure and policy changes need to be made before substantial pipeline transportation of hydrogen becomes a reality.

Cost

Is hydrogen a cost competitive decarbonization technology?

Hydrogen, as a carbon-neutral fuel, is a pre-combustion way to decarbonize a gas turbine. Hydrogen-capable gas turbines and the subsequent upgrades required to a powerplant so it can safely run on hydrogen fuel can be implemented in a cost-effective way, however the full scope of implementing the use of hydrogen at scale needs to be considered.

Major changes to policies, incentives, and infrastructures and initial investments need to be made to make hydrogen a competitive and viable option.

GE believes that in order for the power sector to rapidly decarbonize while maintaining high levels of reliability, post-combustion decarbonization options for gas turbines should be considered as well, like carbon capture utilization and sequestration (CCUS)

Capabilities

Does GE have hydrogen experience?

Yes! According to the latest McCoy Power Report, GE has more experience running gas turbines on hydrogen than any other OEM. In total, GE has 100+ units* with 8M+ operating hours* running on hydrogen and similar low BTU fuels around the world.

GE has combustion technologies that are capable of operating on a wide range of hydrogen concentrations up to ~100% (by volume).

Which existing GE gas turbines can run on H2?

Today, our H-class, F-class, B/E-class and aeroderivative gas turbines are all capable of running on different levels of H2. It’s important to remember that actual hydrogen levels may vary based on the gas turbine model, combustion model, combustion system, and overall fuel consumption.

Featured video

Hydrogen: Here’s how it works

Did you know GE’s gas turbines are already using hydrogen as a source of energy? Let GE’s Fuel Guy, Jeff Goldmeer, walk you through how hydrogen can be used as a power generation fuel today and in the future.

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Take a deeper dive into hydrogen fueled gas turbines

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Hydrogen and CO2 emissions calculator

If you’re thinking about the possibility of using hydrogen on your next power generation project, you’re probably running into more questions than answers. Try out our calculator and get the facts around potential tax savings, as well as water and infrastructure required.

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White paper: Hydrogen power generation

This paper provides an overview on how to use hydrogen as a gas turbine fuel to support low or near-zero carbon power generation, including current hydrogen capabilities of GE's gas turbines, requirements for upgrading existing turbines for operation on hydrogen fuels, and potential future technology options.

Hydrogen fueled gas turbines in action

Learn more about turbines and plants using hydrogen for power

Contact us

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*GE H2 statistics as of September, 2021 – inclusive of both heavy-duty and aeroderivative gas turbines
**Source: GE and publicly available information