What it takes to reach net zero? To find out, Energy Stories travels to Finspång, Sweden, where a new research center shows how we can combine hydrogen, solar power, gas turbines and renewable energy storage to build flexible, zero-carbon energy systems.
Welcome to the Zero Emissions Hydrogen Turbine Center
Stand on one of the boulders here at the forest’s edge and you’ll have an unbroken view of it: solar panels glinting in the sun, an electrolyzer, a compressor and crisp blue tanks for hydrogen storage next to the gas turbine testing facility. Called the Zero Emissions Hydrogen Turbine Center – or ZEHTC for short – it’s a glimpse of the energy future.
An extension of the Siemens Energy gas turbine test facility in Finspång, the center uses solar power and excess energy from the testing to produce hydrogen. That hydrogen is then used in turn to power the gas turbines tests, creating a closed-loop energy system that, when scaled up for industrial parks or communities, would release zero carbon emissions into the atmosphere.
The ZEHTC is a model of future decarbonized power supplies, says Markus Jöcker, the center’s project manager and Technology Innovation Manager at Siemens Energy. “With this demonstration plant, we show how hydrogen and gas turbines can be combined with renewables to achieve a sustainable energy system.”
We show how hydrogen and gas turbines can be combined with renewables to achieve a sustainable energy system.
Project Manager, ZEHTC
We see that our customers want to decarbonize their production, and we want to make sure we can lead them step by step into the energy transition.
Sustainability Strategist, Siemens Energy AB
The ZEHTC project, partially funded by the EU, has several partners, including local and regional Swedish governments and universities in Sweden and Italy that will do the modeling for the project and research technical aspects and optimization of the center.
One of the research projects is concerned with the question of how the model can be scaled up, explains Åsa Lyckström: “We want to learn more about what is needed, so that this kind of sustainable solution can supply a whole community, an industrial area or a city.”
And there are also already ideas for an extension of the project. Lyckström points to a free space beside the hydrogen containers: “We’re definitely interested in working with other green fuels like ammonia and methanol, which in some cases can be easier to transport than hydrogen and might make a better business case for some of our customers.”
“Our customers are definitely looking into alternatives“, Markus Jöcker says. Having a power infrastructure with gas turbines in place, he explains, it’s only a minor step to transform it to a fossil-free plant by using hydrogen or other green fuels. “As a gas turbine provider, we want to keep all these doors open”.
30 June 2021
Niels Anner is an independent journalist based in Copenhagen, who writes on business, science, technology and society in Northern Europe.
Combined picture credits: Lasse Burel