Tracking the Energy Transition: US Clean Energy Hub, South Korean Wind, Jet Fuel From the Sun, and ... Plasmalysis?
Unique partnerships forward both conventional renewables and new technologies to close the gap for a carbon-free future across the globe.
United States Steel Corporation, Equinor US Holdings, and Shell US Gas and Power have entered into a nonexclusive agreement to advance a clean energy hub in the Ohio/West Virginia/Pennsylvania region. The hub would focus on decarbonization opportunities that feature carbon capture utilization and storage (CCUS), as well as hydrogen production and utilization.
To support the hub’s development, Equinor and Shell will jointly apply for US Department of Energy funding designated for the creation of regional clean energy hubs. US Steel is evaluating the role it may play in the hub, including as a potential funding participant, customer, supplier, or partner.
“For 14 years we have been engaged and investing in this region, and our significant equity gas production in the Appalachia region has proved to be an important low carbon asset in our portfolio,” said Grete Tveit, senior vice president for Equinor Low Carbon Solutions. “In collaboration with partners and the local community, we’re proud to advance this initiative and America’s net-zero future.”
With an abundance of low-carbon gas, a robust industrial sector, and a skilled workforce, the tri-state region boasts the optimal location for a potential hub. To realize the true potential of a working hub, private and public engagement is critical, the partners said. Equinor, Shell, and US Steel will be engaging the local industry, labor, educational institutions, communities, and others.
Also stateside, Korea Western Power Company (KOWEPO), Tallgrass, and Power Systems Mfg (PSM) have agreed to collaborate on key infrastructure investments for the conversion of natural-gas-fired power generation to clean hydrogen fuel use in the United States. Focused on investment in utility-scale hydrogen-to-power projects, the parties will leverage KOWEPO’s global experience in power generation and asset management; Tallgrass’ experience throughout the US in traditional and decarbonized energy infrastructure, supply, and logistics; and PSM’s innovative, fuel-flexible FlameSheet gas turbine combustion system retrofit solution, part of their global multiple original equipment manufacturer (OEM) aftermarket services portfolio.
“The FlameSheet combustor retrofit, first installed in OEM gas turbines in 2015, will ultimately enable operational flexibility with 0–100% clean hydrogen and single-digit NOx emissions, allowing these ‘future-proof’ assets to fully participate in our country’s clean energy transition,” said Jeff Benoit, PSM’s vice president for Clean Energy Solutions.
Tallgrass added that this investment, coupled with its Escalante H2 project in New Mexico and the Trailblazer CO2 conversion project, reflects an expanding commitment to decarbonization broadly across the energy industry.
KOWEPO is developing a hydrogen cofiring project in The Netherlands and a green ammonia production project in the UAE. Partnering with Tallgrass and PSM will give the company a new opportunity to enter the US power industry.
Wind Blows Hot for Korea, US
Technip Energies, in consortium with Subsea 7 and Samkang M&T, has been selected by Corio Generation and TotalEnergies to perform front-end engineering design (FEED) for its Ulsan Gray Whale 3 Offshore Windfarm project, located offshore the East Coast of South Korea.
The FEED contract covers engineering for floater, mooring, and interarray cable (IAC) in collaboration with a wind turbine supplier.
The design of the floating foundation will include Technip Energies’ in-house floater technology INO15. With a capacity of 15 MW, INO15 technology is a three-column semisubmersible floater, which is well suited for large series production.
“While leveraging our in-house floater technology INO15TM and the complementarity of strong industrial players, we are excited to contribute to build the future of the floating offshore wind in South Korea fostering the global energy transition,” said Laure Mandrou, senior vice president for Carbon Free Solutions at Technip Energies.
The Gray Whale 3, aiming to develop a 504-MW floating offshore wind farm around 60–70 km from Onsan Port in Ulsan, is one of the three offshore wind projects with a total installed capacity of 1.5 GW that Corio Generation and TotalEnergies are promoting off the coast of Ulsan.
In the US, the Department of the Interior is advancing plans to bring more opportunity for expansion of offshore wind energy in the Gulf of Mexico. The Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) is seeking public input on the identification of two potential wind energy areas (WEAs) in the Gulf of Mexico outer continental shelf.
By 2025, the Interior Department plans to hold up to five additional offshore lease sales and complete the review of at least 16 plans to construct and operate commercial, offshore wind energy facilities, which would represent more than 22 GW of clean energy for the nation.
“BOEM used the most current scientific data to analyze 30 million acres in the call area to find the best spaces for wind energy development,” said BOEM Director Amanda Lefton. “We are invested in working in partnership with states and communities to find areas that avoid or minimize conflicts with other ocean uses and marine life in the Gulf of Mexico.”
The first draft WEA is located approximately 24 nautical miles off the coast of Galveston, Texas. The area for review totals 546,645 acres and has the potential to power 2.3 million homes with clean wind energy. The second draft WEA is approximately 56 nautical miles off the coast of Lake Charles, Louisiana. The area for review totals 188,023 acres and has the potential to power 799,000 homes.
Sun-Fired Jet Fuel; Hydrogen From Plasmalysis
Heliogen, a provider of artificial-intelligence (AI) -enabled concentrated solar energy technology, has signed a letter of intent with sustainable fuels firm Dimensional Energy to jointly produce sustainable aviation fuel (SAF) at Heliogen’s concentrated solar thermal demonstration facility in Lancaster, California. This first-of-its-kind collaboration aims to create a reserve of jet fuel created from sunlight and air to enable the rapid decarbonization of the aviation industry.
The companies will work to deploy Heliogen’s proprietary, AI-powered HelioHeat technology to convert sunlight directly into thermal energy in the form of high temperature steam and air that will be used to produce green hydrogen for Dimensional Energy’s reactor platform.
As part of the collaboration between Heliogen and Dimensional Energy, the agreement includes a goal of building a fully integrated approximately 1-B/D drop-in-ready SAF demonstration. The parties expect the demonstration project to be a first step to developing a pipeline for around 3 million bbl of fuel over the next 10 years.
Dimensional Energy previously signed a commercial agreement to supply United Airlines with 300 million gal of SAF over 20 years.
SAF is a direct replacement for conventional jet fuel and can enable the rapid decarbonization of the global aviation sector when produced from carbon-free energy sources such as the sun instead of petroleum. The SAF market is projected to grow from $219 million in 2021 to $15.7 billion by 2030, expanding at a 60.8% compound annual growth rate, according to ResearchandMarkets.com.
Elsewhere, Germany’s Graforce has developed a methane electrolysis technology (plasmalysis) that uses liquefied natural gas (LNG) or liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) to produce hydrogen and solid carbon for carbon-dioxide-free energy generation. Compared with water electrolysis, plasmalysis requires only one-fifth of the energy to produce the same amount of hydrogen.
The main element of LNG, methane, is the second leading greenhouse gas contributing to climate change. Environmental organizations warn that long-term supply contracts for the fossil LNG will undermine the European Green Deal.
Plasmalysis is an electrochemical technology that converts incoming LNG/LPG into clean-burning hydrogen and solid, high-purity carbon. A high-frequency plasma field generated by renewable electricity splits energy-rich hydrocarbon compounds (10-kWh/kg H2) into hydrogen and solid carbon. This can be sequestered long-term in steel or cement or used for soil enhancement.
“The EU can still achieve its decarbonization targets if LNG or LPG is not burned but rather converted into hydrogen and solid carbon using green electricity and our hydrogen plants directly at the terminal or at decentralized locations,” said Jens Hanke, chief technology officer of Graforce.
Graforce has already built two demo plants—in Berlin and Brandenburg. Three additional projects with investors will be completed by the end of this year: a Methane Plasmalyzer for decarbonizing natural gas and producing solid carbon in an Austrian refinery and two for carbon-dioxide-free heat and energy generation in a hotel and a 40,000-m2 urban district in Germany.