WEC Energy and EPRI finalize first-of-its-kind hydrogen power test

The use of hydrogen in a natural gas generator has been demonstrated by WEC Energy Group and EPRI. It is the first hydrogen power test ever conducted on a utility-scale, grid-connected reciprocating engine generator.

Hydrogen and natural gas were put through two weeks of testing in the middle of October to power one of the reciprocating engine generating units that serve customers of Upper Michigan Energy Resources, a WEC Energy Group affiliate. The blends tested were up to 25/75 percent by volume.

RICE, or reciprocating internal combustion engines, are a technology used in an 18 megawatt unit that was tested. Throughout the test, the RICE unit was continuously observed for data on performance, output, and emissions.

“Demonstration projects like this one are critical to advancing clean energy technologies needed to meet net-zero goals,” said EPRI President and CEO Arshad Mansoor.

With net-zero carbon emissions from electric generating by 2050 and net-zero methane emissions from natural gas distribution by the end of 2030, WEC Energy Group has set some of the most ambitious environmental targets in the energy sector.

On the project, WEC Energy Group and EPRI collaborated with many business organizations, including Wärtsilä, Burns and McDonnell, and Certarus. As the main consumer of the power produced by the test unit, Cleveland-Cliffs’ collaboration and support were essential to the project’s success.

Early in 2023, EPRI will publish a thorough review of the project to help the energy sector learn more about how to successfully employ hydrogen for RICE power generation to help reduce carbon emissions.