At the 2022 ACT Expo Fuel Cells Works sat down with SoCalGas’ Jawaad Malik who is its VP of strategy and sustainability, and chief environmental officer to talk about hydrogen. SoCalGas is deeply involved in hydrogen and fuel cells between its Angeles Link project, its purchases this year of Toyota Mirais, and other projects, and SoCalGas is the largest proponent of hydrogen use amongst utility companies in the United States.
FCW: Angeles Link. It is no secret that California is still struggling with getting enough water for its regular needs without adding hydrogen production into the mix. Where is SoCalGas anticipating on locating enough water to use for electrolysis?
SoCalGas: The water concerns are a concern of ours. The one thing we have been looking at as we have been working on this project is potable water and reclaimed water as well as the amount of water we are going to produce from the project. So not all of the water used to produce hydrogen will be drinking water. Additionally, SoCalGas will not actually be producing the actual hydrogen itself for Angeles Link. SoCalGas is expecting the vendors to be responsible in where the water they use comes from.
FCW: There are other technologies available from companies like Proton Technologies that can repurpose abandoned oil wells for low carbon intensity hydrogen production as well as Raven SR that turns trash into hydrogen. Is SoCalGas currently pursuing other hydrogen production avenues that would reduce the need for a pipeline by taking advantage of the geographical strengths of Southern California?
SoCalGas: We are looking at all technologies that help to advance California’s hydrogen’s efforts. We are supporting any way to help move the state forward responsibly.
FCW: SoCalGas took major steps towards transitioning its light-duty fleet to FCEVs this year. What steps is it taking to do the same with its medium-duty vehicles?
SoCalGas: We are really proud to be one of the first utilities to take delivery of a lot of Mirais. We have converted over 200 of our Ford F-250s to use renewable natural gas. We also put in orders for the Ford F-150 Lightning truck.
FCW: What does SoCalGas feel California could be doing better to support quicker deployment and adoption of hydrogen in California?
SoCalGas: Overall California has been very supportive of decarbonization efforts. Continued support for new technologies through incentives and pilot projects needs to happen. The California Energy Commission does a good job of providing avenues for funding and SoCalGas would like to see that continue. Basically, it is important to give all technologies a chance that help to decarbonize at market scale.
FCW: What objectives is SoCalGas planning on satisfying with the “Hydrogen House” it is currently having built?
SoCalGas: I think it is one of the rare opportunities for us to showcase what a hydrogen infrastructure can look like in residential use. The second is to show what a microgrid can do for resiliency and reliability. In the Hydrogen House you have the hydrogen working as a backup, and it is an example of what a larger project would look like.
FCW: Is SoCalGas giving commercial and industrial parks a discount if developers build hydrogen infrastructure into the park so that it can go partially or completely off-grid?
SoCalGas: We have not contemplated that at this time.
Later this year when SoCalGas opens its Hydrogen House Fuel Cells Works will be taking a peek inside to see what SoCalGas is able to do with hydrogen. It will be the first house built by a major company in California to showcase the benefits of incorporating hydrogen into home building, and hopefully it will spur residential and commercial developers to be more thoughtful nationally in how homes and businesses are built where hydrogen and resiliency are concerned.
Jesse Lyon, Contributor
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