Southern California Gas Co. (SoCalGas) and the University of California, Irvine (UCI) 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.
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’s “Hydrogen Blending Impacts Study,” performed by the 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, accelerating 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% hydrogen to gradually increase the hydrogen blend up to 20%, resulting in potentially significant CO2 emissions reductions.
Neil Navin, vice president for clean energy innovations at SoCalGas, said, “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.”
Jack Brouwer, director of the UCI-based National Fuel Cell Research Center, said, “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.”
Senator Dave Min (D-Irvine), said, “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.”
Kristine Wiley, vice president of the Hydrogen Technology Center at GTI Energy, said, “Advancing how we integrate hydrogen into our energy system is critical to the scale up and implementation of this technology.”
Jon Preciado, business manager for the Southern California District Council of Laborers, said, “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.”