Two Japanese companies are pressing ahead with a plan to make thousands of tonnes of green hydrogen-based liquefied natural gas (e-LNG) at Peru’s flagship LNG export plant — with a view to exporting it to Japan to feed in to the country’s existing fossil gas infrastructure.
Tokyo-based conglomerate Marubeni, utility Osaka Gas and the consortium behind the Peru LNG plant (Shell, US oil company Hunt and South Korean oil company SK Innovation) have said they will commence pre-front-end engineering and design (pre-FEED) work on the proposed plant, aiming for a final investment decision by 2025 and commercial operation in 2030.
The group believe they can produce 60,000 tonnes of e-methane per year at Peru LNG — Latin America’s first LNG export project, located 176km south of the capital Lima — using green hydrogen produced on-site from Peruvian solar, wind and hydropower.
E-methane is made by processing together hydrogen and carbon dioxide in the well-established Sabatier process. Depending on how the LNG is used at the end, it has a round-trip efficiency of around 40-50%, losing around 30% of the original renewable electricity used to make green hydrogen during electrolysis, a further 10-20% in methanation and around 3% in liquefaction.
It is not yet clear whether Marubeni and Osaka intend to use Peru LNG’s existing gas liquefaction facilities to cool the e-methane to —162 degrees Celsius ready for export — which raises the question of how the hydrogen-based product would be kept separate from the fossil gas also being processed at the facility — or whether they plan to build a whole new liquefaction train.
No indication has yet been given as to the size of the electrolyser required nor the renewables capacity needed, but a similarly-sized e-methane plant in Europe, the 50,000 tonnes-per-year Kristinestad project in Finland, will deploy a 200MW pressurised alkaline electrolyser powered by 600MW of wind and solar — at a cost of around €600m ($651m).
The pre-FEED work at Peru LNG will determine how the developers will source renewable energy for green hydrogen production, while the carbon dioxide will be sourced from gas liquefaction plant, where some CO2 is removed as part of the liquefaction process, to prevent equipment corrosion.
At least some of the e-LNG would be destined for Japan, where utilities are under pressure to source e-methane to meet the country’s targets to feed 1% of e-methane into the country’s existing fossil infrastructure by 2030, and 90% by 2050.
This means that much of the e-LNG produced at the plant, if it is realised, would end up being burnt in Japan’s massive fleet of gas-fired power stations — which it has been striving to decarbonise.