Hydrogen demonstration project proposed for UC San Diego campus
By Becky Schultz13 September 2022
San Diego Gas & Electric Company (SDG&E) has submitted a proposal with the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) for a demonstration project on the University of California San Diego (UC San Diego) campus to study how blending hydrogen with natural gas in the existing gas system could help the state of California fulfill regional and state climate goals by 2045, as well as its own net-zero roadmap.
The proposal – submitted as part of a joint filing with SoCalGas and Southwest Gas – builds upon the latest research and international experiences, including the HyDeploy pilot in the UK. That project demonstrated the injection of up to 20% of hydrogen into a university’s natural gas network, suggesting that blending hydrogen up to 20% by volume does not interact negatively with existing materials used within infrastructure such as network pipes or in homes or businesses.
If approved, the proposed pilot project would study the feasibility of injecting up to 20% hydrogen into plastic natural gas pipe. An isolated section of a gas line serving a apartment complex on the UC San Diego campus would use the hydrogen-blended gas for common building equipment such as boilers and water heaters. The hydrogen used in the study would be produced onsite via a dedicated, grid-connected electrolyzer.
SDG&E and UC San Diego would work closely together during all the phases of the project to implement safety protocols, conduct public outreach and identify research opportunities with students and faculty.
According to SDG&E, the project would fulfill a key recommendation in a recent “Hydrogen Blending Impacts” study sponsored by the CPUC and performed by UC Riverside that calls on utilities to conduct “real-world demonstration of hydrogen blending” to fill knowledge gaps that can’t be effectively addressed through modeling or lab experiments.
“Achieving the state’s climate goals, including reaching carbon neutrality by 2045, will require a broad range of clean energy technologies. That’s why we are investing in the research, development and demonstration of emerging hydrogen innovations that have the potential to be a game changer,” said Caroline Winn, SDG&E CEO. “Developing clean fuels like hydrogen is key to creating a clean, reliable and climate-resilient energy sector, while also stimulating economic and job growth.”
Once completed, project results would be used to help inform development of a renewable hydrogen blending standard for the state.