Hydrogen-fueled microturbine for offshore demo

By Mike Brezonick14 May 2021

Capstone Green Energy Corp. announced that it has received an order for a microturbine intended to run on hydrogen. Secured by Capstone partner Optimal Group, the order for Blue Economy CRC is an integral part of an offshore dc-power based microgrid that will support offshore research and aquaculture for food production.

Capstone microturbine

Blue Economy CRC is a cooperative research center in partnership with national and international universities and industry that was established to bring together sustainable seafood production and renewable energy in order to further develop Australia’s aquaculture industry. Supporting the organization’s mission by providing emissions-free electricity, the microgrid will manage the energy generated from readily available offshore, renewable resources, including solar, wind, and waves, and use it to produce hydrogen via a 700 kW electrolyzer.

The hydrogen produced by the ITM Power electrolyzer will be connected to the microturbine, which will provide power on demand. The result is expected to be a safe and clean microgrid that serves as an opportunity to showcase the environmental benefits and flexibility of green hydrogen as an energy storage medium and fuel source for resilient power generation. Beyond offering the potential for 100% hydrogen-fuel-based power generation, Capstone said the microturbine was an ideal fit due to its ability to operate at partial loads while matching its output to the demands of the rest of the microgrid system.

The initial stage of the project aims to provide proof of concept for a dc microgrid combined with multiple renewable sources. Subsequently, a full marinization and commercialization of the system will be completed to support remote, offshore operation.

Capstone recently released its first commercially available hydrogen-based Combined Heat and Power (CHP) product, which can safely run on a 10% hydrogen - 90% natural gas mix, and the company is targeting a commercial release of 30% hydrogen - 70% natural gas mix product next spring.

In addition, through its Research and Development partnership with Argonne National Laboratory, the company is currently testing a 70% hydrogen - 30% natural gas configuration.

“This is a project of many firsts. It will be the largest hydrogen electrolyzer in Tasmania and amongst the largest in Australia,” said Craig Dugan, chief executive officer of Optimal Group. “The first hydrogen Capstone microturbine to be deployed in Tasmania and only the second in Australia, indeed worldwide. On the current research program schedule, it should be the first hydrogen microgrid to be installed offshore.

“Optimal is delighted to be a part of the ground-breaking Blue Economy CRC research program and to be selected to provide the microturbine, electrolyzer, and dc microgrid.”

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