Wärtsilä, Capwatt to partner in green hydrogen blending project in Portugal

By Becky Schultz23 May 2022

Wärtsilä, a global provider of innovative technologies and lifecycle solutions for the marine and energy markets, announced it will collaborate with Capwatt, a Portuguese energy solutions provider and independent power producer, in testing of a green hydrogen and natural gas blend fuel for the Capwatt power plant located in Maia, Portugal. The project, which will start in Q1 2023, aims at testing blends of up to 10% volume green hydrogen, and will be one of the first cases where green hydrogen is used to lessen the carbon footprint of an existing gas-fueled Wärtsilä engine.

The study of progressive integration of hydrogen in cogeneration units will take place in Capwatt’s CHP plant in Maia, Portugal. (Photo: Capwatt)

The combined heat and power plant in Maia, which provides energy for Sonae Campus and the national grid, currently operates with a natural gas-fueled Wärtsilä 34SG engine. While the engine is capable of operating on gas with up to 3% hydrogen, to reach the 10% targeted blend level, modifications will be made to the engine as well as its control system and the plant automation system. Capwatt plans to produce green hydrogen to fuel the engine using an electrolyzer powered by renewable energy.

“We are committed to decarbonizing our operations and we see the blending of hydrogen and natural gas for fueling this plant as a significant step toward achieving this goal. Wärtsilä is a company with great experience and know-how in this field, and we look forward to working closely with them in this ground-breaking project,” said Sérgio Rocha, Capwatt CEO, in announcing the collaboration.

The Capwatt project is in line with Portugal’s National Hydrogen Strategy, which aims to increase the country’s share of hydrogen in energy consumption by 5% by 2030 in the industry sector. During the coming decade, the aim is to have 2.0 to 2.5 GW of installed hydrogen producing capacity, and to have 10% to 15% hydrogen injected into the natural gas grid.

Wärtsilä is researching various sustainable fuels in order to provide customers with solutions to support the transition toward a 100% renewable energy future. (Photo: Wärtsilä Corp.)

Capwatt has a portfolio of nearly 160 MW of cogeneration plants that can benefit from this project’s insights. The results will play a significant role in decarbonization of thermal energy demand, enabling the energy transition of the company’s industrial clients.

“This project concretely shows how existing power plants can take steps toward carbon-neutral power generation,” said Sushil Purohit, president, Wärtsilä Energy and EVP Wärtsilä Corp. “As a technology, the combustion engine represents a viable solution for enabling the transformation to utilizing future fuels. The flexibility of the Wärtsilä engines already plays an important role in allowing a far greater share of renewable energy to be incorporated into power systems.”

Wärtsilä engines can be operated on hydrogen/natural gas blends containing up to 25% hydrogen, and the company is working toward an engine and power plant concept for pure hydrogen operations by 2025. It notes that it already has engine generating sets operating successfully on a natural gas and hydrogen blend in a newbuild power plant at an offshore floating testbed in Singapore.

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