Project would build upon prior research to blend electrolytic hydrogen into existing pipelines
Los Angeles, CA /PRNewswire/ - Southern California Gas Co. (SoCalGas) and the University of California, Irvine (UCI) today announced a proposed collaboration to demonstrate how electrolytic hydrogen can be safely blended into existing natural gas infrastructure on the university's campus. The project aims to help better understand how clean fuels like renewable hydrogen could be delivered at scale through California's existing natural gas system, either to existing customers connected to the gas grid, or to generate clean electricity in zero-emissions fuel cells. The demonstration is an important next step in establishing a statewide injection standard for renewable hydrogen that would promote California's clean energy and resiliency goals. If approved, SoCalGas could begin testing hydrogen blending at UCI as soon as 2024.
"The use of existing natural gas networks to transport renewable hydrogen is actively being pursued around the world because clean fuels like hydrogen can do many of the critical jobs that natural gas does today," said Neil Navin, vice president for clean energy innovations at SoCalGas. "This demonstration project offers a real-world environment to better understand how clean fuel blends can be delivered to customers connected to the gas grid today. It can also help us assess how to more quickly deploy advanced technologies key to the state's climate and clean air goals such as neighborhood micro-grids that promote reliability and resiliency."
"Research at UCI has shown that we cannot achieve high renewable power use without the features of hydrogen," said Jack Brouwer, UCI professor of mechanical and aerospace engineering and director of the UCI-based National Fuel Cell Research Center. "The massive storage and resilient underground transmission and distribution of renewable energy that will be enabled by transformation of the gas system to renewable and clean hydrogen use will be investigated and advanced in this important effort."
"The current heat wave we are experiencing makes clear the urgency of decarbonizing our economy as quickly as possible," said Senator Dave Min (D-Irvine). "I'm proud to represent UC Irvine, which has been a leading research hub for new green technologies, including in the important area of hydrogen fuel. UCI is an ideal location for this demonstration project, which should help us make significant progress in fighting climate change and restoring a bright future for our children and grandchildren."
SoCalGas' collaboration with UCI is part of a hydrogen blending demonstration application jointly filed with San Diego Gas & Electric Company (SDG&E) and Southwest Gas yesterday with the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC).
The demonstration project builds upon the California Public Utilities Commission "Hydrogen Blending Impacts Study," performed by University of California, Riverside (UCR). The study recommended testing hydrogen blending in a real-world environment as an important step toward establishing a California hydrogen blending standard, which could accelerate the state's clean energy and resiliency goals.
As proposed, UCI would use an electrolyzer to convert water into hydrogen for blending into the existing gas grid on sections of the UCI campus. The demonstration would power existing residential and light commercial equipment, including water heaters, boilers, furnaces, and ovens in academic buildings, student amenities, and housing. The project would initially blend 5 percent hydrogen, with a goal of gradually increasing the hydrogen blend up to 20 percent, resulting in potentially significant CO2 emissions reductions.
"Hydrogen will play an important role in reducing CO2 emissions while also enabling access to clean energy in various sectors of our economy," said Kristine Wiley, vice president of the Hydrogen Technology Center at GTI Energy. "Advancing how we integrate hydrogen into our energy system is critical to the scale up and implementation of this technology. This project will be a proving ground for how we leverage our existing infrastructure to transport and supply clean hydrogen."
"The establishment of a statewide renewable hydrogen blending standard could help scale green hydrogen production, which in turn can drive down costs for its widespread adoption across the state," said Navin. "A 20% clean hydrogen blend in a system as large as Southern California's could reduce CO2 emissions in an amount equivalent to removing more than a million passenger vehicles from the road for a year."
"Hydrogen blending provides real and meaningful opportunities for participation in the clean energy economy for the tens of thousands of highly skilled southern California union members who build, operate, and maintain the natural gas utility infrastructure today," said Jon Preciado, business manager for the Southern California District Council of Laborers.
Growing Portfolio of Sustainability, Hydrogen Innovation
SoCalGas is at the forefront of sustainability having announced its aim to have net zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2045. It is the first large natural gas utility in the United States to do so.
SoCalGas' net zero strategy demonstrates the potential of innovative clean fuels like renewable hydrogen. More than a dozen hydrogen pilot projects are currently in progress within SoCalGas. These projects include testing a technology designed to separate out hydrogen blended into natural gas pipelines. The technology could allow quick access to pure hydrogen which could be transported as a blend in existing natural gas pipelines.
SoCalGas is also constructing a renewable hydrogen microgrid and home as part of its [H2] Innovation Experience. The renewable hydrogen microgrid for the [H2] Innovation Experience is a proof-of-concept project for resilient, clean energy using an electrolyzer to convert solar energy to hydrogen and a fuel cell to supply electricity to a home, neighborhood, or small business. The project was named a World-Changing Idea in North America by Fast Company.
Additionally, earlier this year SoCalGas proposed developing the Angeles Link, a dedicated green hydrogen energy infrastructure system for delivering clean reliable energy to the Los Angeles Basin to serve hard to electrify sectors of the economy like electric generation, heavy-duty transportation, and heavy industry and manufacturing.
SoCalGas is a recognized industry leader in hydrogen innovation. The company first partnered with UCI's National Fuel Cell Research Center in 2016 for the first successful green hydrogen blending project in the United States.
More information about SoCalGas' hydrogen innovation can be found at socalgas.com/hydrogen.
Headquartered in Los Angeles, SoCalGas® is the largest gas distribution utility in the United States. SoCalGas delivers affordable, reliable, and increasingly renewable gas service to 21.8 million consumers across 24,000 square miles of Central and Southern California. Gas delivered through the company's pipelines will continue to play a key role in California's clean energy transition—providing electric grid reliability and supporting wind and solar energy deployment.
SoCalGas' mission is to build the cleanest, safest and most innovative energy company in America. In support of that mission, SoCalGas aspires to have net-zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2045 and to replacing 20 percent of its traditional natural gas supply to core customers with renewable natural gas (RNG) by 2030. Renewable natural gas is made from waste created by landfills, and wastewater treatment plants. SoCalGas is also committed to investing in its gas delivery infrastructure while keeping bills affordable for customers. SoCalGas is a subsidiary of Sempra ( NYSE: SRE), an energy infrastructure company based in San Diego.
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Sempra Infrastructure, Sempra Texas, Sempra Mexico, Sempra Texas Utilities, Oncor Electric Delivery Company LLC (Oncor) and Infraestructura Energética Nova, S.A.P.I. de C.V. (IEnova) are not the same companies as the California utilities, San Diego Gas & Electric Company or Southern California Gas Company, and Sempra Infrastructure, Sempra Texas, Sempra Mexico, Sempra Texas Utilities, Oncor and IEnova are not regulated by the CPUC.