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NREL Teams with Southern California Gas to Launch First Power-to-Gas Project in U.S.

April 14, 2015

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 create and test a carbon-free, power-to-gas system for the first time ever in the United States. 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.

Located at the NFCRC at the University of California, Irvine and NREL's laboratories in Golden, Colorado, the power-to-gas demonstrations will also assess the feasibility and potential benefits of using the natural gas pipeline system to store photovoltaic and wind-produced energy.

"As we reach high levels of renewable energy on the grid, storing the electricity generated by solar power and other variable energy sources will help unlock greater use of these renewable resources in the U.S. and throughout the world," said Dr. Martha Symko-Davies, Director of Partnerships for Energy Systems Integration for NREL. "This project will examine a unique way to reduce the capital cost of energy storage."

Learn more about the project.