Hydrogen for Power Generation

Detailed overview of innovation with sample startups and prominent university research


What it is

Hydrogen for power generation involves using hydrogen as a fuel to generate electricity. This can be achieved through various technologies, including fuel cells and hydrogen turbines, offering a clean and versatile alternative to fossil fuel-based power generation.

Impact on climate action

Hydrogen for Power Generation in the Green Hydrogen domain accelerates climate action by offering a clean, versatile energy source. By generating electricity without carbon emissions, this innovation reduces reliance on fossil fuels, supports renewable energy integration, and contributes to a more sustainable and resilient energy system, mitigating climate change impacts.

Underlying
Technology

  • Fuel Cells: Fuel cells convert the chemical energy of hydrogen directly into electricity through an electrochemical process, offering high efficiency and low emissions.
  • Hydrogen Turbines: Hydrogen can be used as a fuel in gas turbines to generate electricity. While hydrogen turbines still produce some emissions, they offer a lower-carbon alternative to natural gas turbines.
  • Hydrogen Storage and Infrastructure: Hydrogen power generation requires infrastructure for hydrogen production, storage, and transportation.
  • Grid Integration: Hydrogen power plants need to be integrated into the electricity grid to ensure stable and reliable power delivery.

TRL : 7-8 (depending on the specific technology)

Prominent Innovation themes

  • High-Efficiency Fuel Cells: Advancements in fuel cell technology are improving efficiency and reducing costs, making hydrogen fuel cells a more competitive option for power generation.
  • Hydrogen Turbine Technology: Innovations in gas turbine technology are enabling the use of higher percentages of hydrogen in the fuel mix, reducing emissions and improving efficiency.
  • Hydrogen Storage Solutions: Advancements in hydrogen storage technologies, such as high-pressure tanks, liquid hydrogen storage, and material-based storage, are improving the feasibility and cost-effectiveness of hydrogen power generation.
  • Hybrid Power Plants: Hybrid power plants that combine hydrogen with other energy sources, such as renewable energy or natural gas, can provide greater flexibility and reliability.

Other Innovation Subthemes

  • Advancements in Fuel Cell Efficiency
  • Next-Generation Hydrogen Turbines
  • Hybrid Power Plant Models
  • Fuel Cell Technology Innovations
  • Enhanced Hydrogen Turbine Designs
  • Hybrid Power Plant Optimization
  • Fuel Cell Cost Reduction Solutions
  • Hybrid Power Plant Performance Enhancements
  • Fuel Cell Materials Research
  • Hydrogen Turbine Efficiency Improvements
  • Novel Hydrogen Storage Materials
  • Hybrid Power Plant Scalability

Sample Global Startups and Companies

  1. Bloom Energy:
    • Technology Enhancement: Bloom Energy is a leading provider of solid oxide fuel cell (SOFC) technology for clean and reliable power generation. While they are known primarily for natural gas-powered fuel cells, they have also been investing in hydrogen-based solutions. Their SOFC systems can be adapted to run on hydrogen, offering efficient and low-emission electricity generation.
    • Uniqueness of the Startup: Bloom Energy stands out for its solid oxide fuel cell technology, which enables efficient and distributed power generation. By leveraging hydrogen as a fuel source, they contribute to decarbonizing the power sector and reducing greenhouse gas emissions. Their fuel cell systems are scalable and suitable for various applications, from residential to industrial.
    • End-User Segments Addressing: Bloom Energy serves a wide range of customers, including commercial and industrial facilities, data centers, healthcare facilities, and utilities. Their hydrogen-based power generation solutions cater to industries seeking cleaner and more resilient energy options, such as microgrids and backup power systems.
  2. PowerCell Sweden AB:
    • Technology Enhancement: PowerCell Sweden AB specializes in proton exchange membrane (PEM) fuel cell technology for various applications, including power generation. They offer fuel cell systems that can operate on hydrogen, providing efficient and environmentally friendly electricity generation with zero emissions. Their PEM fuel cells are scalable and suitable for stationary and mobile power generation.
    • Uniqueness of the Startup: PowerCell Sweden AB stands out for its expertise in PEM fuel cell technology and its focus on hydrogen-based power generation. Their fuel cell systems offer high efficiency, reliability, and durability, making them suitable for demanding applications in the automotive, maritime, and stationary power sectors.
    • End-User Segments Addressing: PowerCell Sweden AB serves customers in the automotive, maritime, and stationary power markets. Their hydrogen-based power generation solutions target industries seeking clean and sustainable alternatives to fossil fuels, such as backup power systems, off-grid applications, and distributed energy resources.
  3. Cummins Inc:
    • Technology Enhancement: Cummins Inc is a global leader in diesel engines, power generation systems, and hydrogen technologies. They are actively involved in developing hydrogen-powered fuel cell systems for various applications, including power generation. Their fuel cell systems use hydrogen as a fuel source to generate electricity with zero emissions, offering a clean and efficient alternative to conventional power generation technologies.
    • Uniqueness of the Startup: Cummins Inc stands out for its extensive experience in power generation and its commitment to developing hydrogen-based solutions. Their fuel cell systems leverage advanced fuel cell technology and system integration expertise to deliver reliable and scalable power generation solutions for diverse applications.
    • End-User Segments Addressing: Cummins Inc serves a broad range of industries and applications, including commercial and industrial facilities, telecommunications, data centers, and transportation. Their hydrogen-based power generation solutions cater to customers seeking sustainable and resilient energy options, particularly in sectors transitioning to low-carbon energy systems.

Sample Research At Top-Tier Universities

  1. National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL):
    • Research Focus: NREL is a pioneering institution in research on Hydrogen for Power Generation, focusing on developing scalable and sustainable methods for producing green hydrogen and integrating it into power generation systems.
    • Uniqueness: Their research involves exploring advanced electrolysis technologies, such as proton exchange membrane (PEM) and alkaline electrolyzers, for efficiently splitting water into hydrogen and oxygen using renewable electricity from sources like wind and solar. They also investigate hydrogen storage, distribution, and utilization strategies, including fuel cells and gas turbines, to enable flexible and dispatchable power generation from hydrogen.
    • End-use Applications: The outcomes of their work have applications in grid balancing, energy storage, and decarbonizing industries with high-temperature heat requirements. By advancing hydrogen for power generation, NREL’s research contributes to reducing greenhouse gas emissions, enhancing grid stability, and promoting the transition to a clean and resilient energy system.
  2. Stanford University:
    • Research Focus: Stanford University conducts innovative research on Hydrogen for Power Generation, leveraging its expertise in electrochemistry, materials science, and energy systems engineering to develop novel approaches for utilizing hydrogen as a clean and versatile energy carrier.
    • Uniqueness: Their research encompasses the development of advanced catalysts, membranes, and reactor designs for efficient hydrogen production, purification, and combustion. They also explore integrated energy systems, hybrid power plants, and co-generation schemes that leverage the unique properties of hydrogen to enhance energy efficiency and grid reliability.
    • End-use Applications: The outcomes of their work find applications in distributed power generation, microgrid applications, and backup power systems. By exploring hydrogen for power generation, Stanford’s research addresses the challenges of intermittency, seasonality, and energy storage inherent in renewable energy sources, paving the way for a more resilient and sustainable energy infrastructure.
  3. Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT):
    • Research Focus: MIT is at the forefront of research on Hydrogen for Power Generation, focusing on developing innovative technologies and policy frameworks to enable the widespread adoption of hydrogen as a clean and low-carbon energy carrier for power generation applications.
    • Uniqueness: Their research involves exploring novel hydrogen production pathways, including thermochemical and biological processes, that utilize renewable resources and waste streams to produce green hydrogen cost-effectively. They also investigate advanced power cycles, such as hydrogen-fueled gas turbines and solid oxide fuel cells, for high-efficiency electricity generation with low emissions.
    • End-use Applications: The outcomes of their work have applications in grid-scale energy storage, peaking power plants, and remote off-grid electrification. By advancing hydrogen for power generation, MIT’s research contributes to enhancing energy security, reducing fossil fuel dependence, and mitigating climate change impacts, driving the transition to a sustainable and carbon-neutral energy future.

commercial_img Commercial Implementation

Hydrogen power generation is still in its early stages of commercial deployment, but several demonstration and pilot projects are underway around the world. For example, the Long Ridge Energy Terminal in Ohio, USA, is a natural gas power plant that is being converted to run on hydrogen, demonstrating the potential of hydrogen for large-scale power generation.