EPRI, GTI Launch Low-Carbon Initiative

Last month the Electric Power Research Institute (EPRI) and the Gas Technology Institute (GTI) announced a new undertaking: the Low-Carbon Resources Initiative (LCRI). According to the organizations’ press release, over the next five years they will work together and with collaborating companies to “accelerate the development and demonstration of low-carbon energy technologies.” Seed funding of $10 million has already been pledged. The organizations expect this amount “to be leveraged many times over [the Initiative’s] $100 million target through public and private collaboration.”

According to its Web site, EPRI, with headquarters in Washington, DC, is “an independent, nonprofit organization for public interest energy and environmental research.” It has a “worldwide membership that … comprises more than 1,000 organizations [from] more than 35 countries.” American electric utilities make up a plurality of the membership. These members collectively account for “approximately 90% of the electric utility revenue generated in the United States.”

According to its Web site, GTI, with headquarters in Chicago, is similarly “an independent non-profit research, development, and training organization” whose historical mission has been to “unlock the potential of natural gas and other energy resources.” The Web site does not contain information on GTI’s membership.

The Initiative’s impetus, according to the press release, is the realization that “existing technology is not enough to achieve … increasingly ambitious decarbonization goals from private companies and governments.” In fact, “achieving decarbonization goals … will require deeper integration of energy infrastructure” – hence the decision of institutes respectively focused on electricity and natural gas to launch the Initiative together.

LCRI’s research areas. From September 1, 2020 Webinar. Courtesy of EPRI and GTI.

The press release highlights two broad areas of effort for the Initiative: “advancements in low-carbon electric generation technologies” and “low-carbon energy carriers, such as hydrogen, ammonia, synthetic fuels, and biofuels.” The latter theme was picked up during a Webinar held earlier this week to provide interested parties with greater depth on the Initiative. Paul Browning, President and Chief Executive Officer of Mitsubishi Power Americas, spoke of Mitsubishi Power’s strong interest in hydrogen as a medium for long-term energy storage. He said that the keys to continuing decarbonization are clear: renewable electricity generation and integrated energy storage. Batteries can address short-term storage needs, but hydrogen will be the solution for long-duration applications.

Mitsubishi Power has a well-documented interest in both ammonia- and hydrogen-based energy systems. As described in a May 2020 Ammonia Energy article, the company “won a contract to provide gas turbine equipment as part of a landmark project being conducted by the Intermountain Power Agency (IPA) in the American west.” Starting in 2025, the equipment will burn a mixture of 30% hydrogen and 70% natural gas. The mixture will graduate to ever higher proportions of hydrogen until 100% is reached in 2045.

Browning also mentioned the Advanced Clean Energy Storage (ACES) project that will be carried out at a site adjacent to the IPA generating station. The ACES project will use renewable power generated at another nearby site to produce hydrogen via electrolysis. Immediately beneath the ACES site, Browning said, is a “Gulf [of Mexico]-quality salt dome” which will be able to store hydrogen with an energy value of 150,000 MWh.

LCRI’s anchor sponsors. From September 1, 2020 Webinar. Courtesy of EPRI and GTI.

So far 19 companies have joined the Low-Carbon Resources Initiative as sponsors. The list includes some of the largest utilities in the United States, including Exelon, Southern Company, Duke Energy, Consolidated Edison, and Southern California Edison — a group whose collected annual revenues exceed $100 billion.

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