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Tough competition for hydrogen power plant supply

Invensys Process Systems (IPS) has been chosen to provide supply control and automation technology for the world’s first hydrogen-fuelled power plant in Italy, despite tough competition from some prestigious power players.

IPS, a global technology, software and consulting firm, was selected by Enel — Italy’s largest power company with more than 50 million power and gas customers and offices in 21 countries — which is the driving force behind the hydrogen-fuelled power plant, according to a report from the IPS headquarters in London.

The plant will be constructed in Fusina, near Venice in Italy, placing the country at the forefront of technological innovation for environmentally-compatible energy development.

The plant is part of a new project called the ‘Environment and Innovation Project’ which organisers estimate will have invested 7.4 billion euros (AU$15 billion) by 2012.

According to the press release, the 40 million euro (AU$81 million) plant will be built next to Enel’s existing coal-fired power station in Fusina in Italy, and will enjoy an injection of 4 million euros (AU$8 million) from the local Veneto region, which MarketWire says is keen to establish a dedicated “hydrogen district”.

“IPS is proud to be a partner in this historic, future-looking project. Our process and energy industry know-how, coupled with IPS technology and support services, allows us to help our clients deliver energy from renewable and environmentally friendly resources,” said IPS president and chief exetuive officer, Paulett Eberhart, in the report.

“We are confident that our unique service offerings and technical expertise will help Enel provide long-term benefits to the people and environment of Italy.”

IPS fought off competition from within the power market to land this prestigious contract, says the report. As part of the deal, IPS will supply I/A Series automation and Triconex triple modular redundant safety controllers, as well as instrumentation and other site services.

“Enel have found in IPS a technical partner that is dedicated to providing the services and solutions not only to generate electricity, but also to reduce CO2 emissions,” said IPS Italy operations director, Vittorio Panzeri.

“Our flexible approach and industry expertise played a significant role in the award of this project.”

In the first phase of the project, a demonstration was conducted to verify that the 12 megawatt gas turbine would operate correctly with pure hydrogen as a fuel. The demonstration also provided data on the safety aspects and control technologies required for the efficient combustion of the gas. The goal of the second phase of the programme is to optimise combustion technology, paying particular attention to nitrogen oxide emissions.

The final design of the plant has been completed, public and statutory permission for construction has been obtained and the gas turbine has been chosen and ordered. The plant is expected to begin producing energy and be completely online by June 2010, serving 20,000 households.

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