Energy transition

Tracking the Energy Transition: The Hydrogen Edition

Mitsubishi, Kraft Heinz, and Petrobras develop plans for hydrogen plants, and the US Department of Energy funds projects throughout the country.

Abstract nano molecular structure. H2 hydrogen
Source: Olemedia/Getty Images

Caterpillar Expands Reach to Hydrogen Fuel Cells
Caterpillar, in collaboration with Microsoft and Ballard Power Systems, announced the successful completion of a demonstration project in which the construction manufacturing company integrated a hydrogen fuel cell into Microsoft’s data center electrical plant in Cheyenne, Wyoming, to show how hydrogen fuel cells can be used to supply reliable and sustainable power to data centers.

The 1.5 MW fuel cell used Caterpillar’s microgrid controller to operate two battery energy storage systems to simulate a 48-hour backup power event with the company’s system providing uninterrupted power, achieving an overall uptime of 99.999%.

“The research and findings of the hydrogen fuel cell demonstration will help us towards our goal of becoming carbon negative by 2030,” said Sean James, senior director of data center research at Microsoft.

Partial funding for the project was provided by the US Department of Energy (DOE) Hydrogen and Fuel Cell Technologies Office’s H2@Scale initiative, which promotes stakeholder collaboration to advance affordable hydrogen production, transportation, storage, and use across multiple energy sectors. The DOE’s National Renewable Energy Laboratory was able to collect significant data by analyzing the safety, techno-economics, and greenhouse gas effects of the system during the demonstration.

Mitsubishi Announces Plans for Hydrogen Plant
Japanese trading company Mitsubishi Corp. announced plans to invest $690 million to build one of the world’s largest green hydrogen production plants in the Netherlands. The project is a joint venture between Mitsubishi and Eneco, with Eneco Diamond Hydrogen handling production. Eneco, an international energy company, will use the electricity generated at its offshore wind farm in the Netherlands to produce the hydrogen. The hydrogen then will be sold through its retail electricity sales network and supplied to manufacturing and power businesses in Europe using pipelines.

Construction is expected to begin in 2026, with hydrogen production slated to begin in 2029.

DOE Funds 16 Projects Across the US
Sixteen projects across eight US states are set to receive funding from the US DOE to explore geologic hydrogen simulation and reservoir management projects. The DOE will divide $20 million among recipients including national labs, universities, and businesses. Two exploratory topic groups have been organized. One group will focus on the production of geologic hydrogen through stimulated mineralogical processes. Researchers will study technologies that stimulate hydrogen production from mineral deposits found in the subsurface, including developing an understanding of hydrogen-producing geochemical reactions and how to enhance or control the rate of hydrogen production.

The second group will focus on subsurface engineering for hydrogen reservoir management. Researchers there will work on subsurface transport methods and engineered containment, as well as reservoir monitoring and modeling during production and extraction, and will assess the risks of hydrogen reservoir development.

Kraft Heinz Goes Green
The Kraft Heinz Company is teaming up with UK-based energy infrastructure company Carlton Power to study the development of a renewable green hydrogen plant at its Kitt Green manufacturing plant in Wigan, Greater Manchester. Under the proposed plan, Kitt Green, one of the largest food processing plants in Europe, would become a 20 MW green hydrogen plant where hydrogen will be produced by an electrolyzer using electricity generated from sources of renewable energy, primarily wind and solar power. The project, the fifth of its kind by Carlton Power, is expected to enter operation in 2026.

“Our agreement with Carlton Power is an important step forward in our efforts to reduce carbon emissions and achieve our global goal of net zero emissions by 2050, with a 50% reduction in emissions by 2030,” said Jojo Lins De Noronha, Kraft Heinz’ president for northern Europe.

Petrobras Partnership Eyes Pilot Plant
Petrobras is partnering with the Senai Institute of Renewable Energies for the construction of an electrolysis pilot plant. Built for research and development purposes, the plant will expand from 1 MWp to 2.5 MWp to meet the electrical demand of the pilot electrolysis unit. The project will cost $90 million and is expected to last 3 years.

“Among the benefits for the company are the development of knowledge about the behavior of equipment due to hydrogen mixture to natural gas, aiming at business models of interest to the company. This is another initiative that will contribute to the analysis of the economic viability of projects for the production of low-carbon hydrogen and its derivatives,” said Jean Paul Prates, president of Petrobras.

Italy’s Snam Studies Hydrogen Interest
Italian gas grid operator Snam announced plans to launch a market test for hydrogen demand and collection of expressions of interest for CO2 transport and storage. Snam plans to announce the results in the third quarter of 2024. These plans are the latest for the company, which is also supporting a plan, known as the SoutH2 Corridor, to build a pipeline to carry green hydrogen from North Africa to Italy, Austria, and Germany.

Moroccan Hydrogen Feasibility Study Moves Forward
Morocco also will study hydrogen interest as Moroccan electricity and water utility ONEE signed a deal with renewable energy companies Nareva and GE Vernova to conduct a feasibility study to replace fuel with green hydrogen to operate a 99 MW power plant, according to Reuters. The plant, located in Laayoune, will be the site of the study, which is anticipated to last 2 years. “GE Vernova will help Laayoune power plant deliver electricity generated using 100% green hydrogen produced at Nareva’s Laayoune wind farm to support Morocco’s expansion of renewable installed capacity from its current share of 40% to 52% by 2030,” the three companies said in a joint statement.