SoCalGas And Bloom Energy Powering Caltech With Hydrogen Project

The Hydrogen Is Injected Into Caltech's Natural Gas Infrastructure Upstream Of Bloom Energy Fuel Cells, Creating Up To A 20% Blend Of Hydrogen And Natural Gas

Southern California Gas Company (SoCalGas) and Bloom Energy announced the powering of a portion of Caltech’s grid with a hydrogen project that demonstrates how hydrogen could potentially offer a strong solution for long-duration clean energy storage and dispatchable power generation.

The project showcases how leveraging existing infrastructure with electrolyzers and fuel cell technology may be able to create microgrids that deliver resilient power and can help to safeguard businesses, communities, and campuses from power disruptions. If developed at scale, this technology may help further California Governor Gavin Newsom’s recent strategic initiatives to develop a hydrogen economy.

“This collaborative effort represents a significant step in harnessing hydrogen as a resilient, clean energy solution that’s in line with Governor Newsom’s vision for California,” said Maryam Brown, president at SoCalGas. “Integrating cutting-edge electrolyzers and fuel cell technology into existing infrastructure demonstrates the potential for building robust microgrids, enhancing power resiliency for businesses, communities, and campuses at scale.”

This project takes water from Caltech’s service line and runs it through Bloom Energy’s solid oxide electrolyzer, which uses grid energy to create hydrogen. The resulting hydrogen is injected into Caltech’s natural gas infrastructure upstream of Bloom Energy fuel cells, creating up to a 20% blend of hydrogen and natural gas. All of this fuel blend is then converted into electricity with Bloom Energy’s fuel cells, and the electricity is then distributed for use on campus.

Blending hydrogen into natural gas infrastructure statewide — which could help reduce dependence on fossil fuels and ultimately drive down hydrogen costs by scaling production — first requires developing a hydrogen injection standard. The global hydrogen economy is projected to potentially produce as much as 80 gigatons of carbon abatement by 2050, which, according to McKinsey, represents approximately 11% of required cumulative emissions reductions.

SoCalGas is working to help develop a state hydrogen blending standard by proposing pilot projects for approval by the CPUC. These projects could help to better understand how clean fuels like renewable hydrogen could be delivered through California’s natural gas system. Just this year, SoCalGas unveiled its H2 Innovation Experience, a demonstration project designed to show the potential resiliency and reliability of a hydrogen microgrid. When coupled with renewable energy, clean hydrogen could help facilitate a scalable, resilient, and decarbonized energy system. SoCalGas is working to help shape California’s 21st century energy system through investments in hydrogen, renewable natural gas, fuel cells, and carbon management.