SoCalGas wins $750,000 grant to develop renewable hydrogen

SoCalGas' grant from California Energy Commission will research producing low-cost hydrogen from biogas, wastewater plants or dairy farms as a feedstock

Southern California Gas Co. (SoCalGas) has received a $750,000 grant from the California Energy Commission (CEC) to develop a novel hydrogen production system using biogas to create affordable and scalable renewable hydrogen.

The project will build upon innovations in modular hydrogen production technology to create a system powered by renewable electricity that can use renewable gas such as biogas from landfills, wastewater treatment plants or dairy farms as a feedstock to produce low cost clean hydrogen.

Additionally, the system will produce hydrogen at a lower temperature, without needing combustion, thereby eliminating nitrogen oxide emissions. The project expects to develop a bench-scale demonstration that is both modular and scalable, offering a flexible means of creating renewable hydrogen.

"SoCalGas is at the forefront of hydrogen innovation as we look to decarbonise California through the use of clean fuels," said Neil Navin, SoCalGas Vice President, Clean Energy Innovations.

"This project will help us get that much closer to net zero by developing a method to create affordable, renewable hydrogen at scale to bring down prices and provide an important tool to help us reduce carbon emissions."

Jonah Steinbuck, deputy director of the CEC's Research and Development Division, said it continues to advance low-carbon hydrogen production for targeted, hard-to-electrify end use applications that support a clean energy economy. "Technologies such as those being explored by SoCalGas are an important step towards decarbonising hydrogen," he said.

This project aims to lower costs of producing renewable hydrogen to $1.39 per kg, comparable to the cost of producing hydrogen via more conventional means, while also reducing emissions up to 95%.

When powered by renewable electricity, the system will produce low-carbon or carbon-negative hydrogen and capture all the carbon dioxide co-product for use in feedstock, CO2-based fuels, microalgae fuels and products and concrete building materials. The demonstration system will be designed to produce 5kgs of hydrogen per day.

The grant comes as Governor Gavin Newsom is planning a major $8bn energy package for the western state, to ensure energy reliability in the face of extreme weather, and accelerate clean generation and storage projects.

Diablo Canyon Nuclear Plant expansion would 'speed up clean energy goals'

Extending operations at the Diablo Canyon Nuclear Power Plant, California’s largest single source of carbon-free electricity production, would significantly reduce emissions and natural gas use, and accelerate progress toward the state’s ambitious clean energy goals, according to a new study released by Carbon Free California.

Retaining Diablo Canyon could help avoid blackouts, significantly reduce electric power costs and provide the best opportunity for California to meet its climate goals, even with the widespread deployment of renewables and energy storage.

The analysis, conducted by the Brattle Group, found that keeping Diablo Canyon online could also help enable California to achieve a carbon-free grid by 2035, a decade earlier than the state’s current goal, at $5bn lower than if the plant was retired.

These early reductions could help jumpstart economy-wide decarbonisation and reduce California’s dependence on gas-fired power generation, lowering cumulative greenhouse gas emissions by 40mn metric tons of CO2.

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