Caterpillar Collaborates with District Energy St. Paul to Demonstrate Sustainability and Performance of Hydrogen-Fueled Combined Heat and Power System

Caterpillar Inc. announced a low-carbon-intensity fuel project with District Energy St. Paul to demonstrate a 2.0 MW combined heat and power (CHP) system fueled by various combinations of hydrogen and natural gas.

Supported and partially funded by the U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (EERE), the project will be led by Caterpillar in collaboration with District Energy St. Paul and the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL).

With preparations starting in the second quarter of this year and operations commencing in 2023, participants will develop and demonstrate a hydrogen-fueled power delivery and control system to evaluate its greenhouse gas emissions profile, reliability, durability, and barriers to adoption. To fully assess every aspect of the hydrogen solution under real-world operating conditions, power and heat from the demonstration project will feed into District Energy St. Paul’s distribution system.

“As a leading authority on CHP systems and the deployment of advanced energy technologies that promote sustainability, District Energy St. Paul is the ideal choice for hosting this demonstration,” said Jason Kaiser, vice president for Caterpillar’s Electric Power Division. “The project will help Caterpillar further extend our expertise in hydrogen-fueled power systems performing under the highest expectations of real-world applications.”

For the demonstration project, Caterpillar will deploy a flexible-fuel CHP system that includes the Cat® Master Microgrid Controller (MMC) and a Cat G3516 generator set packaged in a standardized, factory-assembled solution to minimize complexity and infrastructure requirements.

The MMC will manage load dispatch requirements as the power system demonstrates the performance, efficiency and emissions characteristics of a hydrogen-fueled solution. Using 100% hydrogen fuel, 100% natural gas fuel, or natural gas blended with up to 25% hydrogen, the project will compare how hydrogen and hydrogen blends can be integrated into a waste-heat-and-power solution.

Ziegler, the local Cat dealer, will provide on-site support and system maintenance for the project.

Caterpillar’s Investment in Hydrogen-Fueled Power

The demonstration project with District Energy St. Paul and the NREL is the latest illustration of Caterpillar’s advancements in hydrogen-fueled power solutions. The company has begun offering demonstrator generator sets capable of operating on 100% hydrogen, including fully renewable green hydrogen, on a designed-to-order basis. The Cat G3516H gas generator set is available in North America and Europe with a rating of 1250 kW for 50- or 60-Hz continuous, prime, and load management applications.

Additionally, Caterpillar offers commercially available power generation solutions from 400 kW to 4.5 MW that can be configured to operate on natural gas blended with up to 25% hydrogen. In the fourth quarter of this year, customers will be able to order retrofit kits that provide blending capabilities up to 25% hydrogen for generator sets built on select engine platforms.

Also, Caterpillar has launched a three-year project through a collaboration with Microsoft to demonstrate a power system incorporating a large-format hydrogen fuel cell to produce reliable and sustainable backup power for data centers. The project is supported and partially funded by the DOE under the H2@Scale initiative and backed by the NREL.

District Energy St. Paul’s Commitment to Environmental Stewardship

District Energy St. Paul is a recognized leader in environmental and energy sustainability, earning a Global Sustainability award from the International Energy Agency and recognition from the United Nations Environment Programme.

District Energy St. Paul is committed to carbon neutrality by 2050 and has already made notable progress on carbon reduction targets over the years, reducing carbon emissions by 68% between 2000 and 2021. This achievement was made possible by increasing efficiency, enhancing customer building performance, improving data and controls management, and upgrading production with higher efficiency equipment.

The integration of renewable energy through solar thermal and biomass-fired combined heat and power has helped the system achieve nearly 50% carbon-free heat. In 2021, District Energy, began offering carbon-neutral cooling to all customers by offsetting scope 2 emissions associated with electricity used to deliver chilled water to customer buildings through an agreement to purchase renewable energy credits from projects in Minnesota and Wisconsin.

Caterpillar’s Product Portfolio Can Help Customers Meet their Sustainability Goals

The hydrogen CHP project is the latest example of Caterpillar’s contribution to a reduced-carbon future through continued investments in new products, technologies and services. Caterpillar helps customers achieve their climate-related goals by providing products that facilitate fuel transition, increased operational efficiency and reduced emissions. In addition to its hydrogen initiatives, Caterpillar offers the following:

  • Caterpillar recently purchased Tangent Energy Solutions, an energy-as-a-service (EaaS) company that provides Distributed Energy Resource Management System (DERMS) software solutions for monitoring, managing and monetizing on-site energy assets, including natural-gas and renewable power generation, storage and microgrids. It also enables utilities and other energy providers to access distributed energy resources (DERs) that can rapidly increase the utilization of renewable sources of energy on the grid.
  • Caterpillar’s hybrid energy solutions technology suite includes photovoltaic (PV) solar modules, bi-directional power (BDP) inverters, energy storage system (ESS) modules, advanced microgrid controllers and full digital monitoring.
  • Cat cogeneration CHP systems and combined cooling, heat and power (CCHP) systems simultaneously provide power for electrical loads as well as high-efficiency heating and cooling.
  • Cat generator sets can be configured to operate on numerous biogas fuels, including fermentation biogas, landfill gas and wastewater biogas.
  • Cat diesel-fueled power solutions have enabled operation on various hydrotreated vegetable oil (HVO), biodiesel, and blended fuel products for more than a decade, including designed-to-order systems that can use 100% HVO or biodiesel.

Caterpillar delivers innovative power systems engineered for sustainability, durability, reliability and value. The company offers worldwide product support, parts and services, and customer value agreements through the Cat authorized service and dealer network. In addition, dealer technicians are trained to provide a comprehensive range of maintenance and services that help customers optimize the total cost of ownership of Cat equipment.