Vienna power station prepares for hydrogen co-firing

Donaustadt power station turbine
One of Austria’s largest gas turbines is currently undergoing conversion at the Donaustadt power station in Vienna. In 2023, Wien Energie, RheinEnergie, Siemens Energy, and VERBUND aim to blend hydrogen into the energy generation mix as part of an operational trial.

This trial is the first of its kind involving a commercially used F-class gas turbine in combined cycle operation. The partners in the project aim to gain important insights from the trial about how combined heating and power plants can be converted for use with green energy sources. Upgrading the turbine for operation with hydrogen is the first milestone in the project. The gas turbine itself is thus ready for the hydrogen blending process.

Turbine upgrade activities to be completed by mid-July

In addition to preparing for hydrogen co-firing, Wien Energie will be able to boost the efficiency of the power station by about 23 MW in total by the upgrade of the turbine. The scope has included installing improved turbine blades, a new combustion system, a thermal gas analyzer, and a new control system. The combustion chamber was also optimized and prepared for the operational trial.

The gas turbine outage, which began in early May and will be completed in mid-July, is being performed by Siemens Energy. “This joint project will demonstrate that it will be possible to convert existing gas turbines in order to use hydrogen, one of the most important energy vectors of the future, in existing conventional power stations. This will be an important step in the energy transition and decrease overall reliance on fossil energy sources,” said Aleš Prešern, General Manager of Siemens Energy Austria. Once the outage is completed, the plant will resume regular service until the operational trial begins.

Collaborative climate protection project with a major impact

The proportion of hydrogen in the first stage of the trial will be 15% by volume. The plan is to double this proportion in the second stage. If the trial is successful, the plant will be certified for permanent operation. The insights from the operational trial will smooth the way for ‘green’ power stations. Even by blending in 15% of green hydrogen by volume, the Donaustadt power station would save about 33,000 metric tons of CO2 annually.

Wien Energie, RheinEnergie, and VERBUND all use Siemens Energy SGT-5 4000F gas turbines. The flexibility they offer will continue to be urgently needed in the future, since the turbines can offset intra-day fluctuations and seasonal differences in production from renewable wind or solar-powered generation systems. More than 115 F-class gas turbines are currently in operation in Europe, with an installed capacity of more than 31 gigawatts.

First results expected in late 2023

The hydrogen co-firing will be tested in the summer of 2023. Further preliminary work will continue until then, along with the installation of the necessary hydrogen infrastructure, such as a technical supply system and various measurement and analysis stations. The partners expect initial results from the trial and analysis by the end of 2023. All in all, Wien Energie, RheinEnergie, Siemens Energy, and VERBUND are investing about €10 million in the project, and applications for grant funds have been submitted to be able to implement the project in full.

The Donaustadt power station

Vienna’s Donaustadt power station is one of Austria’s most advanced combined heating and power plants. Put into operation by Wien Energie in 2001, the power station has a capacity of 350 MW for heat generation and up to 395 MW for electricity. In combined operation it has an efficiency rating of 86%, and converting the gas turbine will boost this by a further 0.6%, making the plant especially efficient. In 2020, the Donaustadt power station produced electricity equivalent to the needs of 850,000 households and heat for more than 150,000.

Donaustadt power station
Donaustadt power station in Vienna
HTW Editorial Team

HTW Editorial Team

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