Wärtsilä unveils world-first 100 pct hydrogen-ready power plant

Image Credit: Wärtsilä

Finish technology group Wärtsilä has unveiled what it says the world’s first large-scale 100% hydrogen-ready engine power plant, a step up from existing technology which runs on a blend of natural gas and hydrogen.

Wärtsilä, which describes itself as a technology leader for the marine and energy markets, already makes engine power plants for industrial companies, independent power producers, and utilities.

It provided the battery technology for the Torrens Island big battery in South Australia, the state that plans to host the biggest hydrogen only power plant in Port Augusta by early 2026.

According to Wärtsilä, the hydrogen-ready engine power plant is based on the Wärtsilä 31 engine platform and is a significant step beyond existing technology which uses a blend of natural gas and up to 25 per cent hydrogen.

These engine power plants have extremely fast ramp times with no minimum up or downtime and are increasingly used to balance renewables on the grid. And, when fuelled by green hydrogen, they ensure that power production remains carbon free.

Two products will be brought to market in 2025, with delivery for 2026, including the 100% hydrogen-ready natural gas Wärtsilä 31SG-H2 engine and the Wärtsilä 31H2 pure hydrogen engine.

While Wärtsilä’s 31H2 pure hydrogen engine is self-explanatory, the 31SG-H2 engine runs efficiently on natural gas and with hydrogen blends of up to 25 per cent volume but can then be converted to run on 100 per cent hydrogen.

“We will not meet global climate goals or fully decarbonise our power systems without flexible, zero-carbon power generation, which can quickly ramp up and down to support intermittent wind and solar,” said Anders Lindberg, president of Wärtsilä Energy.

“We must be realistic that natural gas will play a part in our power systems for years to come. Our fuel flexible engines can use natural gas today to provide flexibility and balancing, enabling renewable power to thrive. They can then be converted to run on hydrogen when it becomes readily available: futureproofing the journey to net zero.

“This is a major milestone for us as a company, and the energy transition more generally, as our hydrogen-ready engines will enable the 100% renewable power systems of tomorrow.”

Capable of synchronising with the grid within 30 seconds from start command, Wärtsilä’s 100% hydrogen-ready engine power plant concept has achieved the first of three stages of certification for hydrogen-readiness from leading German certification authority, TÜV SÜD.

Joshua S. Hill is a Melbourne-based journalist who has been writing about climate change, clean technology, and electric vehicles for over 15 years. He has been reporting on electric vehicles and clean technologies for Renew Economy and The Driven since 2012. His preferred mode of transport is his feet.

Get up to 3 quotes from pre-vetted solar (and battery) installers.