Three Companies Evaluate Natural Gas Unit Conversion to Hydrogen for Carbon Capture

Three major firms want to evaluate the possibility of converting a natural gas-fired power plant in the Netherlands into a hydrogen-powered plant to possibly capture its carbon emissions.

Statoil, Vattenfall, and Gasunie on July 7 signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) to evaluate the possibility of converting one of Vattenfall’s three combined cycle gas turbine (CCGT) units at the Mangum plant (Figure 1) in Eemshaven to run on hydrogen. Each unit has a capacity of 440 MW. According to the companies, one CCGT emits about 1.3 million tons of carbon dioxide (CO2) per year.

Fig 3_StatoilHydrogen
1. Evaluating carbon capture from natural gas. Three companies want to explore the feasibility of converting one of the three 440-MW combined cycle gas turbine units at Vattenfall’s Magnum plant in the Netherlands to hydrogen, if its carbon emissions are captured and stored. Courtesy: Koos Boertjens / Vattenfall 

Under the MoU, the companies will now conduct feasibility studies to explore how to design a large-scale value chain where production of hydrogen is combined with carbon capture. Gasunie will also look at what infrastructure may be needed for transport and storage of captured CO2.

The companies did not specify how they would produce hydrogen from natural gas, though they noted: “The technology for producing hydrogen by converting natural gas into hydrogen and CO2 is proven and known.” Irene Rummelhoff, executive vice president for New Energy Solutions with Statoil, said in a statement that the new element would be to design a large-scale value chain, where production of hydrogen is combined with carbon capture, transport, and storage.

So far, she said, high costs combined with a lack of CO2 storage facilities have limited the development of a low-carbon value chain for hydrogen based on natural gas. However, the Norwegian government in 2016 initiated a new national CO2 capture, transport, and storage project. Studies also confirm the feasibility of storing CO2 on the Norwegian continental shelf with high storage capacity and the potential to expand the facilities to manage higher CO2 volumes beyond the initial demonstration project, Statoil said. “If the Norwegian [carbon capture and storage] demonstration project is realized, this may open up for future CO2 storage from other projects, including the joint Vattenfall, Gasunie and Statoil project,” the company said.

Sonal Patel is a POWER associate editor.