Three power plants planned in New York, Virginia and Ohio will test whether hydrogen can one day replace natural gas in electric generation.
Power producers Danskammer Energy, Balico and EmberClear are paying Mitsubishi Power Americas Inc. more than $3 billion for the facilities, which will collectively generate 3,284 megawatts of electricity. While the plants will initially run on natural gas alone, they’ll eventually shift to burning green hydrogen produced and stored on-site. They’re designed to make it easier to ramp up hydrogen use as production increases, Mitsubishi Power Americas CEO Paul Browning said.
Green hydrogen — produced by stripping the gas from water using electrolyzers powered by wind and solar — is seen as key to eliminating carbon emissions from the industrial sector that now relies on natural gas as both a fuel source and a feedstock.
Other electric generators also are exploring integrating green hydrogen into their power production in an effort to slash emissions as more states set renewable-energy mandates. Utility NextEra Energy Inc. in July announced it will run one of its Florida power plants, in part, on hydrogen, using solar power to strip the gas from water.
“There is clearly an opportunity five to 10 years from now to displace the last 10% of the carbon emissions out of the electric sector by manufacturing hydrogen with renewables,” Jim Robo, NextEra’s CEO, said during an earnings call in July.