SoCalGas Powers up the First Residential Renewable Hydrogen Microgrid

Feb. 3, 2023
After generating their first kilogram of renewable hydrogen last fall, the [H2] Innovation Experience is now up and running.

Southern California Gas Company (SoCalGas) has achieved another milestone in its quest to demonstrate how clean, renewable hydrogen can be used in residential microgrids.

This week, the company officially turned on its [H2] Innovation Experience ([H2]IE), a 2,000 square foot home powered by a renewable hydrogen microgrid.

A first-of-its-kind demonstration project

Located in Downey, CA, the [H2] Innovation Experience is the first home in North America where a state-of-the-art solar powered renewable hydrogen microgrid   provides electricity to the home 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.

On sunny days, the microgrid draws power from the solar panels. Excess electricity is converted into renewable hydrogen, which is then stored until it’s needed, at which point the hydrogen is converted back into electricity via an on-site hydrogen fuel cell.

With the [H2]IE demonstration project, SoCalGas aims to show how renewable hydrogen microgrids can transform the way residential neighborhoods are electrified. The company said the system has the potential to reliably power more than 100 homes, regardless of weather conditions, for up to a week.   

SoCalGas announced last fall that it had produced its first kilogram of renewable hydrogen at [H2]IE, an initial step in proving the viability of residential hydrogen microgrids.

H2 will also be blended with natural gas

The renewable hydrogen created at [H2]IE will also be blended with natural gas and used to power appliances including the home’s tankless hot water heater, clothes dryer, stove, fireplace, and bar-b-que grill.

"This innovative project demonstrates how the gas and electric grids – working together – can help California reach net-zero emissions more quickly, affordably, and reliably,” said SoCalGas CEO Scott Drury.

Hydrogen’s role in California’s clean energy transition

California Lieutenant Governor Eleni Kounalakis attended this week’s event, where she noted that [H2]IE is an example of how California is leading the clean energy transition.

"This first-of-its-kind project shows how clean renewable hydrogen and microgrids can help power homes, enhance grid reliability, and preserve and grow good-paying union jobs in our state,” Kounalakis said.

SoCalGas to use hydrogen to reach net zero

Drury noted that the [H2] Innovation Experience further advances SoCalGas' evolution as it innovates toward net-zero emissions.

Hydrogen is a key part of the company’s sustainability plans. In addition to the [H2] Innovation Experience, the company has more than a dozen other hydrogen demonstration projects in various stages of development.

The utility is also working on a green hydrogen pipeline system that would provide renewable energy to the Los Angeles area. Called the Angeles Link, it would be the largest green hydrogen pipeline system in the country.

The proposed project is expected to help SoCalGas achieve its 2045 goal of net zero greenhouse gas emissions, as well as reduce the emissions of other hard-to-electrify sectors of the economy.

Renewable hydrogen microgrids can also power businesses

SoCalGas and others in California are already thinking about how renewable hydrogen microgrids might reduce the carbon emissions of southern California businesses, while providing them with the reliable energy they need.

"The [H2]IE has significant positive implications for the future of California's businesses. Our businesses need access to clean and reliable energy. California's business community is enthusiastic about this project and the promise of cleaner technologies that best meet our needs,” said Jennifer Barrera, president and CEO of CalChamber.

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About the Author

Kathy Hitchens | Special Projects Editor

I work as a writer and special projects editor for Microgrid Knowledge. I have over 30 years of writing experience, working with a variety of companies in the renewable energy, electric vehicle and utility sector, as well as those in the entertainment, education, and financial industries. I have a BFA in Media Arts from the University of Arizona and a MBA from the University of Denver.

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