The recent initiation of field testing on the converted combined heat and power (CHP) plant in the Othmarschen area of Hamburg marks a ‘decisive step forward' in a joint flagship project by Innio Jenbacher and HanseWerk Natur. This 1 MW pilot plant is said to be the world’s first MW-scale gas engine that can be operated either with 100% natural gas or with variable hydrogen-natural gas mixtures up to 100% hydrogen.

“Our joint project with HanseWerk Natur is a key milestone on the path toward climate neutrality … a particularly attractive aspect of our gas engine technology is that existing natural gas engines can also be converted to run on hydrogen. This offers operators security of investment, with the added benefit that the existing infrastructure can not only be utilised in the longer term, but also deployed in a way that is environmentally sound,” commented Carlos Lange, president and CEO of Innio.

The testing programme will evaluate how the plant operates with different hydrogen-natural gas mixtures and is expected to provide important insights for the future operation of similar plants. “By field testing this CHP plant with up to 100% hydrogen, we are demonstrating that a greener, more reliable, more flexible and future-orientated energy supply for Hamburg is technically feasible,” commented Thomas Baade, technical director of HanseWerk Natur GmbH.

The converted CHP plant provides 30 residential buildings, a sports centre, a daycare centre, and the Othmarschen Park leisure complex with a supply of local heating that equates to 13 000 MWh hours annually. The electricity generated is fed to electric vehicle charging points in Othmarschen’s multi-level parking garage, and to the local power grid.