This article was first published on 16 October with the headline “World first as Siemens Energy burns 100% hydrogen in industrial gas turbine”, and went on to say that this was the first time that a gas turbine had ever burned 100% hydrogen. This information came from a press release by Siemens Energy.

Hydrogen Insight has since learned that this assertion was not correct, and that Kawasaki Heavy Industries was actually the first company to run an industrial gas turbine on 100% hydrogen, back in 2020.

Hydrogen Insight would like to apologise for this error and for not carrying out a more thorough check on what other companies had previously achieved.

The following article is now factually correct.

Siemens Energy has managed to operate an industrial gas turbine using 100% hydrogen for the first time, more than three years after Kawasaki Heavy Industries became the first company to do so.

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The German company says the 100% green-hydrogen burn in its SGT-400 model — which it claims is a world first for renewable H2 — was achieved at the 1MW Hyflexpower demonstration project at a paper plant in Saillat-sur-Vienne, developed by a consortium including Engie, the German Aerospace Centre and four European universities.

The project uses a 1MW of electrolyser, powered by renewable energy, to produce green hydrogen that is stored in a large tank, before later being burned to generate electricity inside the gas turbine.

“The Hyflexpower project demonstrates that hydrogen can be used as a flexible energy storage medium, and that it’s also possible to convert an existing gas-fired power turbine to operate using renewable hydrogen,” said Siemens Energy in a statement. “Thus it is a real driver for accelerating the decarbonisation of the most energy-intensive industries.”

Siemens Energy executive board member Karim Amin added: “The knowledge and experience gained from the Hyflexpower project where we installed the first gas turbine to run on 100% hydrogen [sic] will help us to continue develop our entire gas turbine fleet for a hydrogen-based future. The interaction between electrolysis, storage, and hydrogen conversion at one site has been impressively demonstrated, and now it's a matter of scaling the results.”

It is widely expected that green hydrogen will be needed to generate power during extended periods when the wind isn’t blowing and the sun isn’t shining, perhaps being produced in the summer using excess solar power and consumed during the so-called “dark doldrums” of winter.

Although turbines are relatively inefficient at converting potential energy into actual energy, they can be used at a scale that would be difficult — and expensive — for electricity-generating hydrogen fuel cells to replicate.

There are also concerns that burning pure hydrogen in nitrogen-rich air will produce large amounts of nitrous oxides (NOx), which are harmful to human health and act as indirect greenhouse gases, but this could be alleviated with technology similar to the catalytic converters in cars.

“Having tested Hyflexpower for electricity production, the goal is now to extend its operation to industrial heat production and additional operational modes. It is also planned to explore ways of scaling up and commercializing decarbonized electricity generation,” said Siemens Energy.

“At Engie, we are very proud of this world first,” said Frank Lacroix, the French company’s vice-president in charge of energy solutions. “The Hyflexpower project is remarkable for many reasons: for the exceptional collaboration it has enabled between several European partners, for the forward-looking technologies it has tested, and for the promising prospects it opens up for the use of renewable hydrogen in the industrial sectors most difficult to decarbonise.

“We look forward to continuing this decisive work for the future of decarbonized industry with our partners.”

Siemens Energy points out that it has now proven that its SGT-400 industrial gas turbine — which can produce 10-15MW of power — can be fuelled with 100% hydrogen, 100% natural gas, and any blends of the two in between.

In June 2022, researchers at Stavanger University in Norway announced that they had successfully produced heat and electricity by combusting 100% hydrogen in a micro gas turbine (which are generally smaller than 500kW), as part of a collaboration with the German Aerospace Centre, a member of the Hyflexpower consortium.