Southern California Gas Company (SoCalGas) has joined with a major U.S. energy research organization and a national laboratory to create and test the first carbon-free, power-to-gas system in the nation. The technology researched by SoCalGas, the U.S. Dept. of Energy’s National Renewable Energy Laboratory and the National Fuel Cell Center converts electricity into gaseous energy and could provide a large-scale, cost-effective solution for storing excess energy produced from renewable sources.
Using electrolyzer-based methods, the power-to-gas concept utilizes 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.