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The partnership is creating microgrids with hydrogen electrolyzers and fuel cells to deliver reliable power for the California Institute of Technology.
Southern California Gas Company (SoCalGas) and Bloom Energy have announced that they’re powering a portion of the California Institute of Technology’s (Caltech) grid with an electrolyzer and fuel cell-driven hydrogen project. The project is designed to demonstrate how hydrogen could offer a solution for long-duration clean energy storage and dispatchable power generation.
"It is becoming clearer with each passing day that hydrogen can play a key role in California's efforts to reduce our reliance on fossil fuels," said Senator Bob Archuleta, Chair of the Senate Select Committee on Hydrogen Energy. "Moreover, I am excited to see Caltech serving as a testbed for the use of hydrogen with this new technology on their campus."
The partnership will leverage existing infrastructure with electrolyzers and fuel cell technology to create microgrids that deliver resilient power for businesses, communities, and campuses, reducing downtime caused by power disruptions. If developed at scale, the project may further California’s strategic initiatives to create a hydrogen economy.
The project uses water from Caltech’s service line and inputs it through Bloom Energy’s solid oxide electrolyzer, which harnesses grid energy to produce hydrogen. Hydrogen is then injected into Caltech’s natural gas infrastructure upstream of Bloom Energy fuel cells, producing up to a 20% blend of hydrogen and natural gas. This fuel blend is converted into electricity with the fuel cells, and then distributed for use on campus.
"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 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."
A successful blending of hydrogen into state natural gas infrastructure requires the development of a hydrogen injection standard. The integration of hydrogen would help reduce the dependence on fossil fuels and may drive down hydrogen costs by scaling production.
"We commend Governor Newsom and SoCalGas for their vision and leadership on the work to develop the hydrogen economy," said Greg Cameron, President and Chief Financial Officer at Bloom Energy. "As a California manufacturer of Bloom electrolyzers, we are positioned to advance the goals of delivering clean and reliable energy in a post-carbon economy. We are working on a number of opportunities to deliver our electrolyzers to customers to help grow hydrogen as an energy source in the U.S. and internationally."