China’s Greater Bay Area, surrounding the Pearl River Delta, is one of the world’s most densely populated areas, with 86 million people living in nine megacities. Powering this region is no small feat, especially in a country that is shifting away from coal, which the government vows to reduce to less than 58% of the national energy mix by the end of this year.
A new order for two 9HA.01 heavy-duty gas turbines for Guangdong Province’s Guangdong Huizhou combined-cycle power plant should be able to help. This week GE and Harbin Electric Corporation announced that they will provide China’s state-owned utility Guangdong Energy Group with the powerful turbines.
Turbines from GE’s H-class have already helped power plants score efficiency records in Europe and Asia. But there’s more. The machines are also expected to be the first gas turbines in mainland China to burn hydrogen blended with natural gas.
Scheduled to be operational in 2023, the project will supply the province with 1.34 gigawatts (GW) of power. It will initially operate on a blend of up to 10% hydrogen by volume, but there is a potential for that to increase over time. GE has a technology road map in which it hopes to eventually achieve 100% hydrogen in the H-class platform over the next decade. “GE sees hydrogen-blended natural gas serving as a catalyst accelerating the world’s efforts towards decarbonizing the power generation sector,” said Ma Jun, utility sales general manager of GE Gas Power China.
GE has the largest installed fleet of gas turbines in the world, including some that are already running on mixtures of natural gas and hydrogen. In total, GE turbines have logged more than eight million operating hours using blends of hydrogen, and GE more recently announced new power facilities that will go online in Ohio and Australia using blends of hydrogen and natural gas. Hydrogen could help reduce CO2 emissions to the atmosphere by millions of tons by the end of the decade. Gas-powered plants produce approximately half of the CO2 emissions that a coal plant does, and this is further reduced to about 40% of the emissions when the gas plant burns a 10% H2 blend. Doing this also results in less mercury, nitrous oxide and sulfur oxide entering the air.
Still greater climate benefits can be realized by powering these plants with blends of natural gas and so-called green hydrogen, which uses renewable electricity to split water molecules and produce oxygen and hydrogen. In early July, New York State decided to bring green hydrogen into the state’s portfolio of more sustainable energy solutions — and GE is helping the state move toward that goal. This fall, the Brentwood Power Station on Long Island began a demonstration project to test the feasibility of running on green hydrogen.
GE Gas Power already serves more than 100 customers in mainland China, with more than 200 gas turbines and an installed power capacity of 46 GW.
“GE has long been our preferred partner when transitioning our power plants from coal to natural gas, exceeding our expectations in projects such as our Dongguan Ningzhou power plant,” said a representative of Guandong Energy Group. “This project will be foundational in promoting the use of hydrogen blending in power generation across other provinces.”
Image credit: Guangdong Energy Group