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, according to the company's news release.
According to SoCalGas, 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 the 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, VP 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."
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 with the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC), according to the company.
"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."
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 a important step toward establishing a California hydrogen blending standard.
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, according to the news release. 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, with a goal of gradually increasing the hydrogen blend up to 20%.
"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, VP 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."