SoCalGas Power-to-Gas Project Selected by U.S. Department of Energy’s National Renewable Energy Laboratory to Receive Funding

Utility to Receive $175,000 Cost Share to Advance Renewable Energy Storage Technology

Apr 24, 2017

LOS ANGELES, Apr. 24, 2017 – Southern California Gas Co. (SoCalGas) today announced that its power-to-gas project has been selected by the U.S Department of Energy’s (DOE) National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) to receive up to $175,000 in cost share support for a new technology research and demonstration project at NREL’s Energy Systems Integration Facility (ESIF).  SoCalGas and NREL researchers will partner to conduct research to advance the development of power-to-gas technology, a cutting-edge method of storing excess renewable energy.

“Power-to-gas technology has the potential to bridge the renewable energy supply-demand gap that has become more and more challenging,” said Jeff Reed, director of business strategy and advanced technology at SoCalGas. “This technology can significantly increase the amount of renewable energy integrated into the electrical supply and improve grid reliability. By using our existing gas pipeline infrastructure to store large amounts of carbon-free power, we could really make a difference in California’s clean-energy future.”

"NREL and SoCal Gas will be leveraging the large-scale hydrogen system capabilities at the ESIF to accelerate the commercialization and deployment of a power-to-renewable-hydrogen-to- -natural-gas," said Kevin Harrison, Senior Engineer at NREL. “Once the renewable hydrogen and/or methane is produced, the gases can be stored indefinitely and utilized in a number of energy sectors including electricity generation, transportation, fertilizer (ammonia) production, and oil and gas. The system can also be operated in a highly dynamic mode to help stabilize the electrical grid to enable higher penetrations of renewable sources of electricity."

Power-to-gas technology takes excess renewable electricity that would otherwise go to waste and converts it to hydrogen. The hydrogen is then combined with carbon dioxide and fed to a bioreactor where organisms produce renewable natural gas, or RNG. RNG can be used in everything from home appliances to industrial processes, engines and power plants.

The conversion of renewable electricity to RNG enables long-term, monthly, or seasonal storage of large amounts of carbon-free power.  Researchers note that this long-duration storage is difficult to achieve with traditional storage technology such as lithium ion batteries, which are typically designed to store energy for shorter time periods. 

SoCalGas’ research with NREL, located in Golden, Colorado, will seek to answer questions like whether the bioreactor can be operated efficiently and economically to follow solar- and wind-generated electricity profiles.  The team will also examine the potential of power-to-gas technology to store large quantities of renewable energy for an entire year, and how it compares in performance and cost to battery storage.

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About Southern California Gas Co.
Southern California Gas Co. (SoCalGas) has been delivering clean, safe, and reliable natural gas to its customers for 150 years. It is the nation's largest natural gas distribution utility, providing service to 21.6 million consumers connected through 5.9 million meters in more than 500 communities. The company's service territory encompasses approximately 20,000 square miles throughout central and Southern California, from Visalia to the Mexican border. SoCalGas is a regulated subsidiary of Sempra Energy (NYSE: SRE), a Fortune 500 energy services holding company based in San Diego.

For further information: 24-Hour Media Line: (213) 244-2442 | @SoCalGasNews