Informa Australia is part of the Informa Connect Division of Informa PLC

This site is operated by a business or businesses owned by Informa PLC and all copyright resides with them. Informa PLC's registered office is 5 Howick Place, London SW1P 1WG. Registered in England and Wales. Number 3099067.

Energy & Utilities

Could gas turbines be the key to making our energy transition a success?

6 Oct 2022, by Amy Sarcevic

Gas turbines are a key element of today’s electricity production infrastructure but, until recently, they have largely been overlooked as tools in our national energy transition.

Dr. Jeffrey Goldmeer, Emergent Technology Director – Decarbonisation at GE Gas Power believes this should change.

He says gas turbines complement other grid-forming technologies given the long storage life of fuels and easy integration with ‘up and coming’ clean energy technologies.

Post-combustion carbon capture systems, clean hydrogen, and other low-heating value fuels are among the tried and tested tools that gas turbines can be configured with.

“Gas turbines have what it takes to provide the grid stability we need now, and the carbon neutrality we need in the near future,” said Dr. Goldmeer ahead of the Australian Gas Turbines Conference, hosted by Informa Connect.

“Other grid-forming options like batteries can provide power for limited periods (e.g. 4-6 hours) and may have difficulty recharging during extreme weather events. We have seen occasions of solar and wind energy being cut off or made unavailable for long periods during storms, and batteries often don’t have the storage capacity to bridge that gap. Of course, batteries are great in that they are fully decarbonised (besides their carbon footprint for manufacture), but they don’t yet provide features for longer-duration or larger-scale grid stability.

“During extended periods of renewable downtime, we will likely need dispatchable and decarbonised assets providing power to the grid; and, since gas turbines can be configured to be “hydrogen ready”, I believe they could be a winner on all fronts. In terms of operational time, they are only restricted by how large their fuel storage system is, and they will eventually [once fully configured with clean energy technologies] become carbon neutral at their point of use.”

Hydrogen potential is strong

Collectively, the gas turbine industry has already accrued 17 million hours’ experience of running on partial hydrogen. The New York Power Authority’s Brentwood Hydrogen demonstration project ran a GE LM6000 gas turbine on a 44 percent blend of hydrogen and natural gas, while a project in Asia has used up to 95 percent hydrogen.

Soon, Australia will become the first country globally to adapt a 9F turbine to blend natural gas and hydrogen for civil power generation. Once complete in 2023, the Tallawarra B project by EnergyAustralia will provide over 300 MW of dispatchable capacity for New South Wales, partially substituting the output of the Liddell 1.6 GW coal-fired power plant, which is set to retire in the same year.

Dr. Goldmeer says Tallawarra B offers significant hope for a carbon neutral future for gas turbines.

“When people ask if it’s possible to fully power gas turbines with hydrogen, projects like Tallawarra B give me the confidence to answer with an emphatic ‘yes’. Sure, some of the older turbines will need updating before they can blend hydrogen power. Newer machines are essentially ‘hydrogen-ready’ for operations on hydrogen blends now,” he said.

Dr. Goldmeer also believes gas turbines could help reposition Australia as a hydrogen fuel exporter. “They could help us power countries like Japan and Korea, which are not as rich as Australia in their domestic energy supply,” he said.

While some have expressed concern that hydrogen powered gas turbines will defy emissions regulation, Dr. Goldmeer believes compliance is possible.

“We have learned from relevant experience with existing technologies that there is a way to run a gas turbine on hydrogen and maintain emissions criteria,” he said.

Further investment makes sense

Given the ‘future readiness’ of gas turbines, Dr. Goldmeer believes further investment in the technology makes sense. He says advances in existing models lay the groundwork for future adaptations.

“The combustion systems that are currently being developed for 7F (50hz) turbines in the United States [as part of a $6 million investment from the US Department of Energy], could also power 9F turbines,” he said.

“In this way, gas turbines are a bit like cars. They can be upgraded with newer equipment and customised to adapt to future conditions. For example, I put snow tyres on my car in the winter to drive better in the snow. It is much more sensible to buy snow tyres than replace your summer car with a winter one. It is similar with gas turbines; I can upgrade the combustor and other equipment to operate on fuels like hydrogen to reduce carbon emissions.”

Hear more from Dr. Jeffrey Goldmeer at the Australian Gas Turbines Conference, hosted by Informa Connect. This year’s event will be held 7-8 November at the Aerial UTS Function Centre, Sydney. Learn more and register your place here.

Dr. Jeffrey Goldmeer is an Emergent Technologies Director at GE Gas Power. Jeff is responsible for developing and executing strategies for the decarbonization of gas turbine-based power plants. His primary focus is on the use of low and zero carbon fuels (e.g., hydrogen) supporting the company’s vision of accelerating decarbonization with gas turbine technology. He is also co-creator and co-host of GE’s award-winning decarbonization podcast, Cutting Carbon.


Blog insights you may like

Get all the latest on Informa news and events

Informa Connect Australia is the nation's leading event organiser. Our events comprise of large scale exhibitions, industry conferences and highly specialised corporate training.

Find out more

Subscribe to Insights

Join Our Newsletter
Informa Insights

Stay up-to-date with all the latest
updates, upcoming events & more.