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Hydrogen

A gas-fired power plant under construction along the Ohio River at Hannibal, Ohio, will test the feasibility of burning a mix of gas and hydrogen with the goal of being all-hydrogen before the end of the decade.

You can add a new fuel in the mix of electric power generation in the Ohio Valley: hydrogen.

Eventually it could displace part of the market for the newcomer that has caused so much upheaval in the industry: natural gas.

This week, Long Ridge Energy Terminal at Hannibal, Ohio, across the Ohio River from New Martinsville, West Virginia, announced plans to transition its 485-megawatt combined-cycle natural gas power plant to run on hydrogen to produce electricity with no carbon dioxide emissions. Long Ridge said it intends to begin providing carbon-free power to customers as early as next year by blending hydrogen in the gas stream and transition the plant to be capable of burning 100% green hydrogen — hydrogen produced from electrolysis of water using electricity from renewable sources — over the next decade.

The plant is under construction, with commercial operations planned for November 2021. Long Ridge would be the first purpose-built hydrogen-burning power plant in the United States and the first worldwide to blend hydrogen in a GE H-class gas turbine, the company says. The plant’s turbine can burn between 15% to 20% hydrogen by volume in the gas stream initially, with the capability to transition to 100% hydrogen over time.

Long Ridge is a subsidiary of Fortress Transportation and Infrastructure Investors LLC (FTAI). The hydrogen process is a joint project of FTAI, GE and New Fortress Energy.

“As the cost of carbon free fuels continues to drop, the Long Ridge Energy Terminal is ideally positioned to become a leader in deploying utility-scale green hydrogen solutions and clean energy storage,” said Joe Adams, CEO of FTAI.

For initial testing of hydrogen blending, Long Ridge has access to nearby industrial byproduct hydrogen. For the production of green hydrogen with electrolysis, Long Ridge has access to water from the Ohio River. Eventually, underground formations can be used for large-scale hydrogen storage. Those are the same formations that other companies want to use to store natural gas liquids from fracking wells in that region.

“With one of the most efficient power plants in the United States, Long Ridge continues to innovate by being among the first to provide reliable, resilient, on-demand power fueled by hydrogen,” said Matthew Rinklin, managing director at GCM Grosvenor, which owns a 49.9% equity interest in Long Ridge.

Long Ridge itself is built on the site of the former Ormet aluminum mill, where hundreds of people once worked. Now it’s a mixed-use development with the aim of being, in the words of its owners, “the Appalachian Basin’s leading multimodal energy terminal with a 485 MW power plant under construction, nearly 300 acres of flat land, two barge docks on the Ohio River, a unit-train-capable loop track and direct access to Ohio Route 7.”

The hydrogen process for power generation is experimental on this scale in this region. Information on the federal Energy Information Administration website does not list any hydrogen-powered plants under development.

So who knows what the long-range impacts of this project will be. With coal, natural gas, renewables and now hydrogen, there could be an ever-changing mix of how the region gets its electricity.

Jim Ross is development and opinion editor of The Herald-Dispatch. His email address is jross@hdmediallc.com.

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