Southern California Gas Company (SoCalGas) has joined with the Energy Department’s National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) and the National Fuel Cell Research Center (NFCRC) to launch demonstration projects to develop and test a power-to-gas system for the first time ever in the U.S. The technology converts electricity into gaseous energy and could provide North America with a large-scale, cost-effective solution for storing excess energy produced from renewable sources.
Using electrolyzer-based methods, the power-to-gas concept uses electricity from renewable sources, such as solar and wind power, to make carbon-free hydrogen gas by breaking down water into hydrogen and oxygen. The hydrogen can then be converted to synthetic, renewable methane — traditional natural gas — and stored to meet future energy needs. It can also be used as a multi-purpose energy source for vehicles, micro-turbines, fuel cells or other equipment.
“A power-to-gas system can help California meet environmentally-focused energy goals and solve a major energy challenge facing our nation: how to cost-effectively store excess power from renewables to meet energy demands when the wind does not blow or the sun does not shine,” said Patrick Lee, senior vice president, customer service, innovation and business strategy for SoCalGas.
Commercial-scale power-to-gas systems are already used in Germany and are being explored globally as a means to convert and store increasing levels of wind and solar power during times of excess supply. Such a commercial system could enable natural gas utilities across North America to use their existing pipeline infrastructure as essentially a large, cost-effective “battery” to store and deliver clean, renewable energy on demand. Initial project results are expected by year end.
SoCalGas is Golden Sponsor of L-NGV2015 San Diego. Under the theme “Natural Gas and Other Clean Fuels for All Applications”, this event will take place on June 17-20, 2015 at the San Diego Convention Center in California. For further information, please visit the official website.