SoCalGas Among First in the Nation to Test Hydrogen Blending
Southern California Gas Co. (SoCalGas) today announced that it is blending hydrogen to fuel a household system and appliances at its Engineering Analysis Center and Centralized Training Facility. As part of the testing, technicians are measuring the performance of common household appliances like stoves, wall heaters and forced-air furnaces when they are fueled with a blend of hydrogen and natural gas. This is the next step moving out of the lab and toward future blending into the natural gas grid, with an emphasis on safety and training. SoCalGas is among the first utilities in the nation to test the effects of a hydrogen blend on natural gas infrastructure and equipment in a controlled field environment. This effort utilizes the same engineering and technology that will be used to blend into the natural gas grid in the future. The use of hydrogen, either blended with natural gas, or delivered via a dedicated pipeline, is one important component of SoCalGas' strategy to achieve net zero emissions in its operations and the energy it delivers by 2045.
Preliminary results of testing that began earlier this summer show the household natural gas appliances are compatible with up to a 20% hydrogen blend. These initial findings are consistent with previous international research and lab testing. This effort provides key operational and safety experience, including testing for pipeline leaks, that will enable SoCalGas to implement larger scale hydrogen blending demonstrations. SoCalGas continues to test the impacts of blending hydrogen with natural gas on pipelines and appliances.
Furthermore, separate National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) analysis and several international industry studies have indicated the potential to blend hydrogen into existing distribution pipelines serving end use customers.
“In a net zero emissions California, clean fuels like hydrogen will play an essential role in supporting a reliable electric grid, in eliminating emissions from hard to electrify sectors of the economy like transportation and industry, and in making the transition to a clean energy economy affordable,” said Neil Navin, vice president of clean energy innovations for SoCalGas. “The European Hydrogen Backbone Initiative is a great example on how cooperation can accelerate these goals. There, some 23 nations are working to repurpose 70 percent of their existing natural gas infrastructure to carry clean hydrogen to a cluster of demand centers across the European Union.”
“Investing in tests that aim to demonstrate the potential of hydrogen is key to identifying solutions that can help us address our current climate crisis,” said Assemblymember Bill Quirk. “SoCalGas' commitment to decarbonization innovations help advance the energy transition."
Several analyses, including the Los Angeles Renewable Energy Study (LA100) by the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power (LADWP) and NREL, highlight the need, in 2045, for renewably produced and storable fuels to maintain reliability in the power sector. In addition, many experts agree that clean fuels like hydrogen will be essential for decarbonizing hard to electrify sectors of the economy like industry and heavy-duty trucking.
SoCalGas is actively engaged in more than 10 pilot projects related to hydrogen, including a partnership with Netherlands-based HyET Hydrogen on technology that could transform hydrogen distribution and enable the rapid expansion of hydrogen fueling stations for fuel cell electric vehicles (FCEVs). The technology would allow hydrogen to be easily and affordably transported via the natural gas pipeline system, then extracted and compressed at fueling stations that provide hydrogen FCEVs.
In addition, later this year, SoCalGas will break ground on its award-winning H2 Hydrogen Home. The first project of its kind in the U.S., the H2 Hydrogen Home aims to show how carbon-free gas made from renewable electricity can be used in pure form or as a blend to fuel clean energy systems of the future. When the home is built in the city of Downey, it will be the first fully integrated demonstration project with solar panels, a battery, and electrolyzer to convert solar energy to hydrogen and a fuel cell to supply electricity for the home.
In June 2021, SoCalGas and its H2 Hydrogen Home were named one of Fast Company's World-Changing Ideas in the North America category. The award honors products, concepts, companies, policies, and designs that are pursuing innovation for the good of society and the planet.
Earlier this year, in support of California’s climate goals, SoCalGas became the largest gas distribution utility in North America to set a net zero emissions target that includes scopes 1, 2, and 3 GHG emissions. SoCalGas’ Aspire 2045 strategy aligns with the recommendations of the Paris Climate Agreement and reflects the company’s focus on supporting California with a resilient gas grid through the energy transition to support a carbon neutral economy.