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Black & Veatch to help Intermountain Power Agency transition to green hydrogen

| By Mary Bailey

Black & Veatch (B&V; Overland Park, Kan.) is working with Intermountain Power Agency (IPA) to accelerate IPA’s transition to green hydrogen as it works to substantially decrease and ultimately minimize its carbon footprint across Utah, Nevada and California.

BV has been selected as Owner’s Engineer for the agency’s Intermountain Power Project (IPP) Renewal Project, which marks one of the earliest installations of combustion turbine technology designed to use a high percentage of green hydrogen.

With alternative fuels offering new solutions for a carbon-free future, interest in hydrogen is deepening. A zero-emissions clean fuel that emits only water, hydrogen planned to be produced via electrolysis. When this process is powered by a renewable energy source such as solar PV or wind power, the resulting clean hydrogen is known as “green” hydrogen and is 100-percent carbon-free.

Black & Veatch has a longstanding relationship with IPA, having designed the original coal-fueled IPP in the early 1980s. IPA plans to retire the coal-fueled facility and replace it with an 840MW natural gas-fueled combined cycle power plant in 2025. The two single-shaft advanced-class combustion turbine combined cycle units will be commercially guaranteed capable of blending 30-percent green hydrogen at start-up, with plans to increase hydrogen utilization to 100-percent hydrogen by 2045.

In addition to installing the two combined cycle units, Black & Veatch will support expansion of existing switchyards, new HVDC converter stations, and conversion of the two existing 900MW generators into synchronous condensers. Black & Veatch is assisting IPA with multiple areas of project execution, including system studies, technology selection, design, procurement and construction.

The IPP Renewal Project envisions development of long-duration hydrogen storage in geologic salt caverns that are adjacent to the power plant, which would result in a fully dispatchable resource capable of providing highly reliable and resilient power on demand.

The plant will generate power with advanced thermal efficiencies across its full operating range and is being designed with high flexibility that will allow it to quickly ramp up and down in response to California’s challenging “duck curve.” Whether dispatched for base load power, to follow load and renewable generation swings, or in response to long-duration energy storage needs that far exceed current battery capabilities, the IPP Renewal Project will help support the transforming energy mix in the western United States.

Globally, many organizations are developing sustainability and energy initiatives centered around hydrogen, including projects in the U.S., Australia, Singapore, Germany, Chile, Poland, France, Denmark and Japan. The world’s largest liquid-hydrogen plant is being built in South Korea, and recent projects have piloted hydrogen’s use to power steelmaking and rail transport.

“As with many utilities today, our client needed to bring in an engineering company with the technical expertise and industry experience to tackle a project of this size and magnitude,” said Brian Sheets, project manager with Black & Veatch’s power business. “Using renewable energy in the form of green hydrogen will help California meet its zero-carbon state goals for 2045. The location in central Utah is also significant because the local geology provides the capability to store excess hydrogen in large underground caverns, and existing regional transmission infrastructure will serve as a hub for collecting and transporting renewable energy to southern California. The IPP Renewal Project will help lead the way to a carbonless future.”

“This project advances Black & Veatch’s strategic focus on decarbonization in the power industry, which includes innovation in low carbon fuels such as hydrogen for competitive carbon reduction,” said Mario Azar, President of Black & Veatch’s Global Power Business. “Advancement of green hydrogen as a decarbonization solution further complements our deep capabilities to deliver transformative greenhouse gas reductions through renewable energy, distributed generation, advanced nuclear power engineering, carbon capture utilization, and transmission grid optimization.”