The natural gas utility for Southern California will be a partner in a demonstration project aiming to bring the power-to-gas method of storing excess renewable energy pioneered in Germany to the U.S.
The Southern California Gas Company (SoCalGas) is joining forces with the U.S. Department of Energy's National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) and the National Fuel Cell Research Centre (NFCRC) to set up two demonstration projects that would allow natural gas companies to use their existing pipeline networks as large-scale ‘batteries' for storing excess renewable energy.
Under the power-to-gas (P2G) method, excess renewable energy electricity is used to break down water into hydrogen and oxygen with the former then converted into synthetic renewable methane (natural gas) which can be stored in existing natural gas networks.
After a 250 kW demonstration project in Stuttgart in 2012, a commercial-scale P2G project in Werlte, Germany, with a 6 MW electrical input was established and SoCalGas wants to bring the technology to the U.S.
With the first results expected by the end of the year, the initial two demonstration projects will be set up at the NFCRC's base at the University of California, Irvine and at the NREL laboratories in Golden, Colorado.