The Wärtsilä company said it has researched the use of hydrogen as a fuel for 20 years and has tested its engines with blends of up to 60% hydrogen and 40% natural gas. The development project is part of the company’s long-term strategy to keep its engine technology in line with the global trend towards decarbonising the energy and marine markets.
Other potential renewable fuels are also being studied for future applications, and Wärtsilä said its engines are already capable of combusting 100% synthetic carbon-neutral methane and methanol.
Wärtsilä Energy Business president Marco Wiren said the market for hydrogen-fuelled power plants will emerge along with regulations restricting the burning of fossil fuels.
“We are well positioned to serve the power industry in its transition to 100% renewable electricity generation. Wärtsilä’s engines, capable of running on a variety of sustainable fuels, are offering a highly dynamic balancing power for these future generating systems.”
It is widely expected that wind, solar and battery storage will form an increasing share of power systems in the maritime sector. However wind and solar energy suffer from intermittency.
Renewable fuels will require long-term storage capability to cover for periods of persistent low wind and poor weather conditions for solar energy capture.
Underground gas storage is used to store gas for use during periods when reduced availability of renewables results in the battery storage being drained. Using renewable fuels in flexible power plants reduces the required size of battery storage, improves power system efficiency, lowers generating costs and provides high security of supply even during less than optimal weather patterns.