Wärtsilä, in collaboration with WEC Energy Group, the Electric Power Research Institute (EPRI) and Burns & McDonnell (B&McD), have been contracted to carry out hydrogen fuel testing at the A.J. Mihm power plant in Michigan, USA. The project supports WEC’s ambition to reduce the CO2 emissions from its electric generating fleet by 60% by the end of 2025, and by 80% by the end of 2030 from 2005 levels, and to be net carbon neutral by 2050.

This will be one of the first cases where hydrogen is tested for use to reduce the carbon footprint of an existing gas-fueled power plant delivered by the technology group. The 55 MW plant currently operates with three Wärtsilä 50SG engines running on natural gas. The parties will aim for testing fuel blends of up to 25 vol.% hydrogen mixed with natural gas, thus demonstrating the capability of the plant to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. The Wärtsilä engines can operate with this level of hydrogen blended with gas with little to no modification needed. Though Wärtsilä engines can be operated on even higher hydrogen-blend levels, these tests will be restricted to the limit of 25 vol% hydrogen for natural gas systems, according to the international equipment standard IEC/EN 60079-20-1.

These hydrogen tests reinforce the viability of the internal combustion engine as a future-proof technology that plays a key role in decarbonising the power industry. We have long had a focus on creating solutions that enable zero-carbon power generation, and are excited to begin this hydrogen testing project in the USA as a natural next step in developing our products to meet customer needs for a decarbonised future. Our engines already have the flexibility for both balancing the input of renewables into the power system, and baseload generation with a continuously increasing range of fuels,” commented Jon Rodriguez, Director, Engine power plants, Wärtsilä North America.

In addition to the A.J. Mihm power plant, Wärtsilä has also supplied WEC Energy Group with seven Wärtsilä 50SG gas engines for the F. D. Kuester power plant in Michigan.

Wärtsilä already has engine generating sets operating successfully on a natural gas and hydrogen blend in a newbuild power plant at an offshore floating testbed in Singapore.

Wärtsilä to deliver gas engines in a major U.S. power plant project

Wärtsilä has been awarded an order to deliver the engines for a 128 MW power plant project being developed by WEC Energy Group in the USA. The delivery comprises seven Wärtsilä 50SG gas engines operating with natural gas fuel. They will be part of a modern, low carbon natural gas energy facility that will serve customers of WEC Energy Group utilities We Energies and Wisconsin Public Service in Wisconsin, USA. The fast-starting and stopping Wärtsilä engines have the flexibility to rapidly respond to the inherent fluctuations from solar and wind, and will thus provide the necessary grid balancing for a reliable power supply for Wisconsin’s electric grid.

Delivery of the Wärtsilä engines will take place in October 2022, and the commissioning of the plant is scheduled for March 2023. WEC Energy Group has earlier ordered Wärtsilä engines for two other power plant projects, with total output of 188 MW.

Wärtsilä 50SG engines in engine hall

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