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Hydrogen and ammonia, the next generation of clean power generation

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Hydrogen/ammonia power generating has gotten a lot of press recently as a novel power generation technology that generates electricity by burning carbon-free hydrogen (H2) and ammonia (NH3) in coal and LNG generators.

There is no need for a separate facility because it uses existing power infrastructure such as power-producing facilities, transmission, and distribution lines.

The Moon Jae-in administration has set a target of commercializing 20% ammonia by 2030 and 30% or more hydrogen by 2035. It intends to replace current coal and LNG power facilities with technology to dramatically cut greenhouse gas emissions.

The ‘Hydrogen and Ammonia Power Generation Demonstration Promotion Group,’ led by KEPCO and public power generation businesses, was established by the Ministry of Trade, Industry, and Energy in November of last year. Along with the Ministry of Industry and public power companies, private enterprises are participating in all stages of the hydrogen/ammonia power generating demonstration team, including production, security, transportation, and storage. The research and development for ‘gas turbine hydrogen co-firing limit assessment and combustion optimization technology development’ and ‘carbon-free eco-friendly ammonia power generation technology development’ is expected to be finished by 2024.

Based on the demonstration team’s efforts, the Ministry of Trade, Industry, and Energy proposes to accelerate the commercialization of hydrogen/ammonia co-fired/electric power generation for domestic coal and LNG power generation. Hydrogen power generation seeks to accomplish a 50% co-firing demonstration of 150MW class by 2028, commercialization of more than 30% co-firing in 2035, and up to 100% (burnout) in 2040.

It is intended to complete the demonstration of 20% co-fired power generation by 2027, and to commercialize 20% co-fired power production of more than half of the total coal power plants (43 units) by 2030.

This year, the Ministry of Trade, Industry, and Energy will construct an ammonia storage facility to facilitate the practical application of ammonia co-fired power generation to coal power plants, as well as investigate and support improvements in-laws and systems relating to hydrogen and ammonia power generation, such as providing incentives through an eco-friendly certification system.

In the ‘2030 NDC upgrading plan’ issued in October, Korea showed ammonia power output as 3.6 percent (22.1 TWh) of total power generation in 2030, and carbon-free (hydrogen/ammonia) gas turbine power generation is not even included in the ‘2050 carbon-neutral scenario.’ In 2050, it accounts for 13.821.5 percent of total power generation.

Not only in Korea, but also across the world, there is a surge in hydrogen and ammonia power production technology development and demonstration. In the United States, R&D for hydrogen turbine power generation received 11% of the Biden government’s 1.6 trillion won hydrogen fund.

Major European firms like Siemens are concentrating on fuel conversion for each stage of LNG power generation as well as the development of hydrogen turbine technology. Doosan Energy is leading the charge in developing hydrogen turbine technology in Korea.

Japan has achieved fundamental demonstrations of ammonia combustion technology in all domains, including coal power production, LNG, and fuel cells, and expects to complete a 1GW-class coal power plant demonstration by 2024. In conjunction with new and renewable energy, the US and Europe are also pushing the development and demonstration of technology that can manufacture ammonia and utilize it as a fuel for internal combustion engines.

When hydrogen and ammonia power generation is commercialized, it is predicted to augment 2050 carbon neutrality as well as nuclear power plants, which are facing safety concerns, and renewable energy generation, which suffers from intermittent power generation. The government is committed to devoting all of its resources to the research and use of new carbon-free power sources based on existing knowledge and technology, as well as a major restructuring of the electric power industry.

Private enterprises are helping to develop and demonstrate hydrogen and ammonia power production technology, with KEPCO and other public utilities leading the way. The building of a framework for mutual collaboration for the implementation of the hydrogen economy is being accelerated by the public and commercial sectors.

To develop hydrogen and ammonia power production technologies and secure local and international supply chains, KEPCO has cooperated with significant private enterprises like POSCO Holdings and Lotte Chemical. KEPCO and these companies are promoting the development and commercialization of core technologies for the entire hydrogen/ammonia life cycle in order to reduce national greenhouse gas emissions, as well as business development and investment in order to secure domestic and international hydrogen/ammonia supply chains and their introduction in Korea.

Cooperation in the development of hydrogen-ammonia co-firing technology and the progress of CCUS (carbon dioxide capture, use, and storage) technology is critical.

For instance, when one firm runs out of hydrogen/ammonia stock, the other company supplies it first and then returns it once stock is secured, reducing the risk of supply and demand concerns at the start of the business.

Typical enterprises in each industry, such as power, steel, and petrochemicals, which are representative industries that release huge amounts of greenhouse gas, have worked up realistic cooperation plans that may help the country achieve carbon neutrality and reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

KEPCO wants to expedite the demonstration and commercialization of hydrogen/ammonia co-fired/fired power generation at domestic coal and LNG power plants in collaboration with POSCO and Lotte Chemical.

It will be possible to reduce carbon emissions and use transmission and substation facilities linked to existing coal power plants once hydrogen/ammonia power generation is commercialized, which is expected to help prevent stranded capitalization of existing power plants due to carbon-neutral promotion.

Furthermore, it may play an important role in ensuring the stability of the power system by reinforcing the intermittent and variable nature of renewable energy and providing the inertia force required to keep the power grid stable.

By cooperating with KEPCO E&C to commercialize ammonia reformed gas power plants, Doosan Energy is focusing on extending business collaboration to create hydrogen power production technologies.

In 2019, Doosan Energy became the fifth company in the world to create a massive gas turbine for power production, securing the original gas turbine technology. Based on this, it is accelerating the development of hydrogen turbine technology by collaborating with the Korea Institute of Machinery and Materials on a national project to develop a 50 percent hydrogen co-firing eco-friendly combustor for a 300MW class high-efficiency hydrogen gas turbine starting in 2020.

The hydrogen turbine of the ammonia reformed gas power plant creates energy by burning hydrogen derived from ammonia. Doosan Heavy Industries & Construction will build primary equipment such as ammonia reforming facilities and hydrogen turbines, while KEPCO E&C will develop total power plant engineering technologies, including plant optimization.

Ammonia is a hydrogen-nitrogen molecule that is a cost-effective and efficient hydrogen transporter that can store up to 1.5 times the quantity of hydrogen as pure hydrogen. Hydrogen and nitrogen are separated and extracted from ammonia reforming if hydrogen is required.

Together with Doosan Energy, KOMIPO is supporting a 100MW fuel cell power generating project in Daebul National Industrial Complex in Yeongam-gun, Jeollanam-do, as well as a 1000MW hydrogen co-fired/fired power generation project.

Doosan Energy is in charge of EPC (engineering, procurement, construction) and O&M (design, procurement, construction) and maintenance, while KOMIPO is in charge of procuring new and renewable energy supply certificates (REC) and running power plants.

The 100MW scale hydrogen fuel cell power generation project will be advanced in phases at Daebul National Industrial Complex in Yeongam-gun, Jeollanam-do, as well as the mid-to-long-term hydrogen co-firing/burning power generation project of up to 1000MW, thanks to this collaboration.

The District Heating Corporation (Hannan) is developing hydrogen-powered district heating technology. Last year, Hannan inked a memorandum of understanding with Doosan Energy to market domestically developed, carbon-neutral hydrogen turbine cogeneration plant technology.

Hannan will use this as a testbed for demonstrating an environmentally-friendly cogeneration plant, as well as collaborating with hydrogen turbine items and ensuring the efficient functioning of aged gas turbines for cogeneration. We will collaborate to produce environmentally friendly hydrogen turbines that are carbon neutral, such as in the field of ‘Hydrogen Turbine Supply and Entity.’

Hannan intends to create facilities that will allow hydrogen to be blended with natural gas and used as a fuel for gas turbines, as well as facilities that will be able to burn hydrogen in the future.

The Ulsan hydrogen pilot city, in particular, conducted design and technical assistance for the nation’s first communal energy project utilizing by-product hydrogen last year in order to set the groundwork for a district heating project using hydrogen.

This year, it expects to offer public rental housing in Ulsan’s hydrogen pilot city with heating and electric electricity generated by hydrogen fuel cells.

To demonstrate ammonia co-fired power generation, Korea Southern Power and KEPCO have initiated a 30,000-ton liquid ammonia storage infrastructure project. The ‘Ammonia power generation-based infrastructure building project’ was selected as a designation project supported by the national government by the Ministry of Industry and Trade in January, followed by the final selection of South Power through a public offering procedure.

South Power will serve as the implementing agency, constructing the large-capacity ammonia storage infrastructure required for the demonstration of ammonia power production technology, while KEPCO, the host company, will assist with state subsidy assistance and project management.

The objective is to construct a loading dock, takeover facility, and 30,000-ton ammonia storage facility for the demonstration of 20 percent ammonia co-fired in a timely way to provide a stable supply of clean, carbon-free fuel at a cost of 40 billion won.

In the case of 20 percent ammonia co-fired power generation, this project is estimated to cut carbon dioxide emissions by around 1.4 million tons per year in direct proportion to coal substitution. It is projected to help develop a carbon-free power generation industrial environment and contribute to carbon neutrality by serving as a priming material for ammonia power generation demonstration and commercialization.

Arnes Biogradlija
Creative Content Director at EnergyNews.Biz

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