Low-carbon development and energy transition are the focus of today’s global attention. While driving business growth, taking on more environmental responsibilities is the goal of many businesses. To this end, companies need new energy solutions that ensure operational efficiency while achieving sustainable development.
As a global manufacturer of diesel and natural gas engines, industrial gas turbines and electric-driven diesel locomotives, Caterpillar is actively exploring the efficient and clean use of energy. For more than half a century, with innovation and integration as the core, with vertical integration capabilities, it has tailored solutions for customers based on existing energy structures and future energy technologies to meet their needs for performance, durability and economic value. Building on existing energy efficiency and fuel flexibility, Caterpillar is also developing renewable fuels, fuel cells, electric and hybrid systems, batteries, microgrids, and has introduced some products and technologies that can be applied on a large scale in the future.
Clean electricity and hydrogen energy, which occupy an important position in the future energy structure, have increasingly become emerging energy sources that are the focus of the industry. Caterpillar not only has generator sets and microgrid technologies for multiple clean fuels, but is also actively developing hydrogen fuel cells and generator sets to support different types of customers to use alternative energy sources.
Multi-dimensional layout of hydrogen energy industry
Hydrogen energy is an important resource for achieving energy transition. The International Hydrogen Commission had previously predicted that 18% of the world’s final energy needs would be met by hydrogen by 2050.
Caterpillar has decades of experience in the use of hydrogen-containing fuels. In the fourth quarter of 2021, the company began supplying gas-fired generator sets that use 100% hydrogen as fuel, including fully renewable green hydrogen. At the end of the same year, it began to launch commercial gas-fired generator sets with rapid response functions in phases, using up to 25% hydrogen mixed with natural gas as fuel, and this proportion is likely to increase in the future.
At present, Caterpillar has upgraded the existing Cat gas generator set to a product that can use a certain proportion of hydrogen. As hydrogen fuel supply facilities mature, more and more Cat gas generator sets will likely be upgraded to 100% hydrogen-using products in the future.
In the rail and marine sector, Chevron USA and Caterpillar have jointly announced that they will develop demonstration projects suitable for the application of hydrogen energy as a prime engine in transportation and stationary power plants. Caterpillar subsidiary Progress Rail will also partner with Chevron USA to build a demonstration project for hydrogen-fueled locomotives and supporting infrastructure.
In late 2021, Caterpillar announced that it will work with some data center customers over the next 3 years to build a backup power source using large hydrogen fuel cells, which can use renewable hydrogen fuel as an extended power source. At the same time, Caterpillar is developing hydrogen fuel cells for stationary equipment and some mobile equipment to meet the specific needs of related facilities, machinery and generators.
Clean power generation benefits the future
Globally, clean energy power generation such as photovoltaics, biogas, and hydrogenated vegetable oils is gradually emerging. Some clean energy generation needs to deploy distributed power generation, and microgrids will promote the large-scale access of distributed power and clean power, and promote the transformation of traditional power grids to smart grids. In this area, Caterpillar can offer both generator products that use clean energy and meet customer demand for microgrids.
For example, Lake Kivu, located in east-central Africa, contains large amounts of flammable methane, which can be released into the air at any time, causing harm to local residents and the environment. In order to make full use of these methane resources and resolve the underwater crisis, the local government and enterprises have jointly adopted 19 MWM gas-fired generating units to generate electricity using methane at the bottom of the lake, which can meet the electricity needs of more than 13 million local people for 50 years. As a Caterpillar brand, MWM is known for its robust, efficient and fuel-based gas generator set products.
Access to clean electricity from renewable sources into power systems sometimes requires microgrids. Canadian B2Gold operates a gold mine in central Namibia, an area rich in solar energy resources that are ideal for using Caterpillar’s photovoltaic products. With caterpillar’s support, B2Gold has built a microgrid at the mine, combining Cat generator sets and photovoltaic products into a hybrid power system. As a result, photovoltaic power generation can meet 16% of the mine’s energy needs, reduce the consumption of heavy oil (HFO) by about 3.4 million liters per year, and save 14%-16% of power generation costs.
Innovative integration to adapt to different needs
For customers from different industries such as energy, mining, transportation, construction, technology and so on, Caterpillar can use vertical integration capabilities to carry out customized R&D innovation of specific components and technologies to provide suitable energy solutions.
Microsoft, a global technology pioneer, is currently building a “zero waste” data center, and Cat generator sets will be deployed as backup power in Microsoft’s new data center in Sweden, becoming its indispensable backup energy security. It is understood that the synthetic diesel used in these generator sets, more than 50% of the composition from renewable raw materials, can help achieve the “zero waste” goal. Produced at a local refinery in Sweden, this synthetic diesel is the world’s first liquid fuel to have an environmental label. Caterpillar generator sets can flexibly use a variety of renewable fuels according to customer needs, including hydrogenated vegetable oil, renewable diesel, etc., of which Cat generator sets using renewable fuel oil can reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 40%-70%.
Addressing climate change requires global collaboration, and Caterpillar is working with governments and the public to address the risks posed by climate change and fully supporting global action to address them. Caterpillar is not only committed to reducing greenhouse gas emissions from its own operations, but also helping customers achieve climate-related goals and supporting the energy transition in a variety of industries through investment in products, technologies and services, and working in a variety of ways to achieve a low-carbon future.
(Note: Caterpillar product data mentioned in this article is from internal testing or dealer/customer field test evaluation results)