Press release: FLEXnCONFU Horizon 2020 project launch

16 April 2020

FLEXnCONFU – FLEXibilize combined cycle power plant through Power-to-X solutions using CONventional fuels is a research project funded by Horizon2020 EU’s research and innovation programme (GA 884157), with the goal to develop and demonstrate innovative, economically viable and replicable Power-to-X-to-Power (P2X2P) solutions that combines all available options for the effective and flexible use of surplus power from renewable energies to levelling the power plant load convert electricity into hydrogen or ammonia prior to converting it back to power.  This will enable the design and operation of an integrated power plant layout that can un-tap additional Combined Cycle (CC) flexibility.

The project, with a total budget of 12.6 Million Euros and duration of 48 months (1 April 2020 – 1 April 2024), brings together the entire supply chain of the centralised power generation.

In order to achieve the EU 2030 and 2050 Climate and Energy goals, a high penetration of renewable energy sources (RES) into the grid are required as well as the use of alternative carbon-free fuels in already existing dispatchable centralised power plants. Combined Cycle Gas Turbine (CCGT) plants will be a crucial technology with the required flexibility to compensate the intermittency of the RES. The injection of alternative fuels (i.e. hydrogen (H2) and ammonia (NH3)) will help the required “fuel switch”the EU is facing, drastically reducing CO/CO2/HC emissions, which are more difficult to manage in comparison to NOx. The P2X solutions, which are currently widely studied coupled with RES, could help the CC to levelling their load and reducing its environmental impact. Hence, developing proper technologies and solutions to couple P2X2P systems with GT is mandatory.

FLEXnCONFU, covering the whole value chain, is a pioneer “demonstration to market” project which will contribute to the valorisation of European Gas Turbine (GT) and Power to Gas scientific and technological competencies, and to the creation of a clean hydrogen/ammonia society. Within FLEXnCONFU project, to level the CC load, the electricity production could be converted in H2 or NH3 as carbon free fuels via P2X2P application, to in turn be locally re-used in the same power plant to respond to varying demand. This solution will be demonstrated up to the Technology Readiness Level (TRL) 6 deploying a Power-to-Ammonia system in a relevant environment (a MGT operating in a smart grid context, Savona lab) and up to TRL 7 installing a power-to-hydrogen system in a real operational environment (EDPP􀂶􀁖 Ribatejo power plant). To exploit the potential of NH3 combustion in reducing CO2 emission, combustion tests up to 100% NH3 will be performed in a heavy duty representative GT combustion system (Cardiff University combustion lab). The new FLEXnCONFU layout will unlock the current situation of low operating-hours CCGT power plants by providing secure back-up and improving CCs flexibility as well as overall efficiency, allowing a smoother operation, reducing air pollutant emissions. The FLEXnCONFU system can be coupled to both combined heat and power CC and natural gas CC as well as to coal integrated gasification combined cycle, so guaranteeing a wide replicability potential and a cleaner EU fossil based power plant fleet.

The consortium with 21 partner organisations from 10 Countries (Italy, Uk, Spain, France, Greece, Germany, Belgium, Sweden, The Netherlands), is led by RINA-C. The consortium is well balanced in terms of involvements of industrial and SME partners: RINA-C (Italy) EDPP (Portugal), CNET (Portugal), NPT (Italy), MAS (Greece), HYCS (The Netherlands), Proton Ventures (The Netherlands), TP (Italy), ENLAB (Belgium), ICI (Italy), academic and research institutions: CERTH (Greece), CIRCE (Spain), UNIGE (Italy), CU (UK), TUDA (Germany), UCl (Belgium), KTH (Sweden), CEA (France), TUE (The Netherlands), UORL (France); association ETN (Belgium).

Furthermore, a FLEXnCONFU Users Group, consisted of end-users organizations and experts in the field, will be created and led by ETN to follow the development of the project n order to ensure a high awareness and replicability in the market.