RWE plans to build hydrogen-ready gas-fired power plants at its own former power plant sites in Germany by 2030 to help achieve the goal of phasing out coal. It has awarded the contract to an international consortium, which has laid the foundation for building a hydrogen-capable combined cycle gas turbine power plant with an output of 800 MW at its Weisweiler site by the end of the decade.
The approval planning for the plant is to begin immediately. The ordering of the power plant components and the commissioning of the construction are subject to a final investment decision.
Roger Miesen, CEO RWE Generation, commented: “With the commissioned approval planning, we advance to keep open the chance of completion by 2030. To achieve [the phase out of coal] the political course needs to be set quickly: only when the hydrogen grid connections are secured and the economic operation of the power plants is made possible by suitable framework conditions, can we make final investment decisions."
The German government had announced that it would soon create a regulatory framework for tenders for hydrogen-ready gas-fired power plants, in which the company intends to participate. According to the recently presented plans for the expansion of the hydrogen infrastructure the German national authority for grid regulation, the Weisweiler site could be close to a hydrogen pipeline.
After a tender process for the planned plant, a consortium of Ansaldo Energia (Italy) and Técnicas Reunidas (Spain) was selected. The contract that the partners have now signed includes the approval planning for the power plant as the first step. This is the prerequisite for RWE to quickly start implementation as soon as the framework conditions are right.
Ansaldo Energia is to supply the entire power island, which includes a GT36 gas turbine and generator, a steam turbine and generator, an HRSG, condenser, and auxiliary systems. The GT36 is said to be capable already of operating with a blend of 50% (vol) hydrogen owing to its unique sequential combustion system, with the potential to upgrade to 100% hydrogen.
The two other contract tranches include the ordering of central power plant components and the construction of the plant. They will be triggered once all the necessary permits have been obtained and there is clarity about the overall economic viability of the project. According to current planning, this could be the case in 2025, so that the plant could start producing electricity by the end of the decade.
The planned plant should already be technically capable of using at least 50% of hydrogen at the time of starting operations. All plans will also be designed in such a way that conversion to the use of 100% hydrogen is possible from 2035 onwards.
RWE is also examining the construction of hydrogen-ready gas-fired power plants at other sites.
Image: Visualisation of a generic CCGT plant