A 1.2-GW hydrogen-capable combined cycle power project that Entergy Texas has proposed to build in Orange County, Texas, will be spearheaded by an engineering, procurement, and construction (EPC) consortium led by Mitsubishi Power, Sargent & Lundy, and TIC.
Construction of the $1.19 billion Orange County Advanced Power Station (OCAPS), which received the Public Utility Commission of Texas’s (PUCT’s) approval in January, is slated to begin this year. When completed in 2026, the plant will replace three units—Sabine 1, 3, and 4, boiler steam turbine units with a combined capacity of 1 GW—which are slated to be retired by 2026.
OCAPS, notably, will be equipped with Mitsubishi Power’s hydrogen-capable power train which includes two M501JAC enhanced air-cooled gas turbines, a steam turbine, a heat recovery steam generator, and an advanced control system.
A Need for Reliable, Dispatchable Generation, Fuel Flexibility a Bonus
The massive dual-fuel project is located near Bridge City, within the largest industrial region in the nation. It will also serve the Midcontinent Independent System Operator (MISO). In documents filed with the PUCT, Entergy said the project was needed to provide reliable, dispatchable generation to the region, which could suffer an energy deficit of 9.2 TWh when the Sabine units are retired.
OCAPS, a 2×1 combined cycle gas turbine (CCGT) plant located at the Sabine site, ultimately worked out to have the lowest total supply costs, and was most closely aligned to forecasted generation and demand, Entergy said in documents filed with the PUCT. In a January order, the PUCT also acknowledged that the plant will help maintain transmission system inertia and dynamic reactor support within the region. It could also “provide critical in-region capacity to help maintain service during major storms and facilitate more rapid system restoration following such storms,” the agency noted.
When Entergy first unveiled the project in August 2021, it told POWER that the project should be capable of utilizing up to 30% of its fuel from hydrogen upon commercial operation. “Investing in hydrogen capabilities now will allow Orange County Advanced Power Station to use two fuels and more economically convert to 100% hydrogen in the future, as changing circumstances warrant,” it said.
The PUCT in January, however, amended Entergy’s certificate of convenience and necessity (CCN) to build the OCAPS without the inclusion of the project’s hydrogen co-firing capability. The agency noted that Entergy in February 2022 estimated a $91 million cost for the hydrogen component proposed at OCAPS.
“The Commission commends Entergy for exploring the possibility of hydrogen co-firing as a dual-fuel capability,” the PUCT noted. “However, as the [administrative law judges] found, Entergy did not meet its burden of proof to demonstrate reliability or economic benefits to ratepayers associated with hydrogen co-firing at the Orange County station. Further, there are concerns regarding the environmental effect of emissions to produce gray hydrogen from natural gas as Entergy proposed. And the Spindletop natural gas storage facility located near the Orange County station provides substantial reliability benefits through fuel-storage capability. Hydrogen co-firing capability is simply not needed by the Orange County station at this time.”
A Powerhouse in a Hydrogen-Rich Region
Entergy, nonetheless, pressed on with its selection of Mitsubishi Power’s JAC turbines, underscoring their benefit for future fuel flexibility. While the gas turbine manufacturer’s J-series model is already capable of combusting a mix of natural gas and up to 30% hydrogen by volume, it is targeting development of 100% hydrogen combustion technology by 2025. The gas turbine manufacturer has so far sealed similar deals—mostly for M501JAC units—with several other gas-fired power plants.
“The OCAPS facility will power the rapidly growing Southeast Texas region for years to come and continue our mission of providing cleaner, more reliable, and lower-cost energy for our customers,” said Entergy Texas President and CEO Eliecer Viamontes on Friday. “Additionally, the ability to unlock the plant’s hydrogen co-firing capability supports the plant’s long-term viability and will benefit our customers.”
Hydrogen is already widely used in industrial processes, including by a number of Entergy Texas’s large industrial customers in Southeast Texas, an area characterized by petroleum refineries and chemical manufacturers, Viamontes noted. “OCAPS will be strategically located near hydrogen producers, pipeline, storage, and off-takers to leverage this important source of clean and reliable energy in the future,” he said.
The region also hosts an extensive network of at-scale salt cavern storage facilities and 900 miles of hydrogen pipelines—which represent more than half of the U.S. hydrogen pipelines and one-third of hydrogen pipelines globally. Entergy has said hydrogen fuel for the Orange County plant “can be stored nearby in facilities such as Entergy Texas’s Spindletop gas storage facility in Beaumont, Texas. The facility, which is operated by PB Energy Storage Services, has three salt caverns with a reported working gas capacity of 6,606 million cubic feet.
EPC Consortium Committed to Entergy Decarbonization Goals
OCAPS’ EPC consortium meanwhile appears supportive of the project’s overall potential, including its eventual capability to combust 100% hydrogen. “Through the strong collaboration and the extensive expertise of the project partners, we are strategically equipped to help Entergy achieve its decarbonization goals,” said Kurt Clardy, senior vice president of TIC.
Sargent & Lundy chairman president and CEO Victor Suchodolski, meanwhile, noted that the company’s selection as the engineer of record “is a wonderful opportunity for us to support Entergy’s long-term decarbonization goals.” Suchodolski added: “Along with our advanced class combined-cycle engineering experience, Sargent & Lundy has a deep understanding of the complexities associated with developing large-scale projects like this. We are closer to a cleaner energy future as we work with our partners to reach their 2050 net zero carbon targets.”
Finally, Mitsubishi Power Americas President and CEO Bill Newsom highlighted the EPC consortium’s collaborative aspect. “Mitsubishi Power realizes that to reach net zero carbon goals, we need to assemble teams with complementary expertise. We have been honored to work with Entergy on several recently commissioned power plants. We look forward to continued progress with Entergy and our EPC partners TIC and Sargent & Lundy. To reach net zero carbon by 2050, we must all do our part,” he said.
—Sonal Patel is a POWER senior associate editor (@sonalcpatel, @POWERmagazine).