Italy’s largest power company has created the first power plant in the world to be fuelled by 100% hydrogen.

Enel, a producer and distributer of electricity and gas, has created an industrial-sized zero emissions power plant, in Fusina, Italy.

After officially opening the building site in April 2008, Enel carried out infrastructure and technology work. Initial testing of the turbine using methane gas was conducted in spring 2009, and now, after completion of a hydrogen pipeline running from the plant to Polimeri Europa, the plant has been switched to 100% hydrogen fuelling.

The initial input of electricity onto the grid from the fully operational plant is a world-beating technological achievement; no plant of this type had ever even been tested before. The combustor was specifically developed exclusively for this project by Enel’s Research team, in partnership with General Electric Oil & Gas - Nuovo Pignone.

The Fusina hydrogen plant has a capacity of 12 MW, as well as an additional 4 MW generated through re-use of heated gas produced by the hydrogen-fuelled turbine in the existing coal-fired plant.

The electricity generated, equal to about 60m kWh a year, will be sufficient to meet the needs of 20,000 households, and avoid more than 17,000 metric tons of CO2 emissions a year.

In accordance with an agreement signed in 2008, the hydrogen used to fuel the Enel power plant is provided by the Polimeri Europa cracker (ENI), which utilises hydrogen to run its own plants.

The plant, which is the first of its kind in the world, is located at Enel’s Andrea Palladio Fusina plant, thanks to a supply of hydrogen produced as a by-product in the manufacturing process at the adjacent petrochemical facility of Porto Marghera, Venice.