Wärtsilä Awarded Prestigious Recognition by Environment+Energy Leader on Earth Day

Technology group Wärtsilä has received the Top Project of the Year Award for the Energy Innovation category in the Environment+Energy Leader Awards program for its leadership and participation in the A.J. Mihm power plant hydrogen fuel tests

Wärtsilä, in collaboration with WEC Energy Group, the Electric Research Power Institute (EPRI), and Burns & McDonnell, carried out a hydrogen fuel demonstration project at WEC’s A.J. Mihm Generating Station. The tests, completed in October 2022, marked the first hydrogen power test of a utility-scale, grid-connected reciprocating engine generator in the world, and the largest internal combustion engine to ever operate continuously on a hydrogen fuel blend. The project, which incorporated 25% hydrogen fuel by volume, was conducted to support WEC’s goal to reduce carbon emissions from its electric generation fleet by 60% by the end of 2025; by 80% by the end of 2030 from 2005 levels; and to be net carbon neutral by 2050. The project was also conducted to demonstrate that internal combustion engine power plants have a key role to play in stabilizing an increasing amount of intermittent renewable energy being used for electric generation.

The hydrogen fuel tests were conducted using an unmodified 18 MW Wärtsilä 18V50SG gas-fired reciprocating engine. The parties involved tested fuel blends of up to 25 vol.% hydrogen mixed with natural gas, thus demonstrating the capability of the plant to reduce greenhouse gas emissions while maintaining reliability. Throughout the testing period, the Wärtsilä 50SG engine continued to supply power to the grid, achieving a 95% load with a 25 vol% hydrogen blend, improving engine efficiency up to 0.75% at lower loads, and reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 9.1% while staying compliant with NOx emissions. Further testing showed that a 100% engine load was attainable with a 17 vol% H2 blend.

“This recognition on Earth Day underscores Wärtsilä’s commitment to reducing carbon emissions and working towards a 100% renewable energy future. It demonstrates that power companies can convert existing gas power plants to run on cleaner, more sustainable fuels, thus lowering carbon emissions and providing a bridge for energy companies to continue providing reliable, affordable energy,” said Jon Rodriguez, Energy Business Director, Wärtsilä North America.  

In its 12th year of administering the awards program, Environment+Energy Leader’s anonymous review process involves judges comprised of industry executives working in energy and environmental fields. Entries are scored on a numerical basis with an aggregate of the judges’ scores.

The A.J. Mihm power plant hydrogen fuel test project stood out to the judges for its exceptional contribution to energy innovation, setting a benchmark for innovation and sustainability in its category. 

Wärtsilä plans to continue pilot testing its engines with hydrogen blends into 2024 and is currently developing an engine and power plant concept to run on 100% pure hydrogen, expected to be available in 2026.

View the 2024 E+E Leader Award Winners eBook here.

Wärtsilä | www.wartsila.com/energy