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WEC Energy Group announces hydrogen power pilot program

The first program of its kind in the United States will launch in Upper Michigan
WEC Energy Group announces hydrogen power pilot program in Upper Michigan
WEC Energy Group announces hydrogen power pilot program in Upper Michigan(WLUC)
Published: Jan. 25, 2022 at 3:13 PM EST
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MILWAUKEE, Wis. (WLUC) - A pilot project to test hydrogen as an energy source will take place in the U.P. this fall.

WEC Energy Group announced yesterday it is leading the project at one of two Upper Michigan Energy Resource (UMER) plants. The project will blend 25% hydrogen and 75% natural gas in one of the plant’s Reciprocating Internal Combustion Engine (RICE) units.

The project’s main goal is to provide a clean, reliable, and affordable energy source in the future.

“We’re planning to invest about $3.5 billion in the next five years in newer, renewable energy,” said UMER Spokesperson Brendan Conway. “But, it goes beyond that because what we have to do is when the sun is not shining and the wind is not blowing, we have to be able to also provide that safe and affordable reliable energy that our customers depend on.”

The pilot program’s cost would be covered by WEC Energy Group. Customers in the service area of the project will not see any changes to their electric bill or service.

If the project is a success, the results will be shared with others in the energy industry to determine how to successfully use hydrogen for power generation.

The original story is below.

Last published: Jan 25, 2022 3:13:16 PM

WEC Energy Group (WEC) is leading a pilot project to test hydrogen as a fuel source for power generation, the group announced Tuesday.

The company will test co-firing hydrogen with natural gas at one of its power generation plants in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula. This is one of the first hydrogen power pilot programs of its kind in the United States.

WEC has two natural gas-fueled generating stations located in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan, the F.D. Kuester Generating Station in Neguanee Township and A.J. Mihm Generating Station in Baraga Township. The exact plant and unit is still to be determined.

WEC Energy Group has set some of the most aggressive environmental goals in the energy industry, including net-zero carbon emissions from electric generation by 2050 and net-zero methane emissions from natural gas distribution by the end of 2030. This pilot continues that industry leadership and could help create another viable option for decarbonizing the economy, WEC said in a press release.

“We’re pleased to take a leading role in testing hydrogen in our modern natural gas-fueled generation units,” said Gale Klappa, executive chairman. “As we bring more renewable energy online, we must ensure that we can keep the lights on when the sun is not shining and the wind is not blowing. The potential of adding hydrogen as a clean generating fuel to our fleet of dispatchable plants is an important step as we bridge to a bright, sustainable future.”

During the pilot project, hydrogen and natural gas will be mixed up to a 25/75 percent blend to power one of the generating units that serves customers of Upper Michigan Energy Resources, a WEC Energy Group subsidiary. The units use a technology known as RICE — reciprocating internal combustion engines. The engines were manufactured by technology company Wärtsilä and began service in 2019.

WEC Energy Group is partnering with the Electric Power Research Institute (EPRI), the world’s preeminent independent, non-profit energy research and development organization, driving innovation to ensure the public has clean, safe, reliable, affordable, and equitable access to electricity across the globe.

EPRI will lead the technical implementation of the project and share results to further educate the energy industry about how to successfully use hydrogen for power generation to support reducing carbon emissions.

“Demonstration projects like this one are critical to advancing clean energy technologies needed to meet net-zero goals,” said EPRI CEO Arshad Mansoor. “This project will provide key insights on how this could be replicated throughout the country, providing energy companies with a suite of solutions to reduce carbon emissions. We look forward to working with WEC Energy Group and other energy stakeholders throughout the clean energy transition.”

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