Southern California Gas Co (SoCalGas) has started powering two of its largest Los Angeles-area facilities with Bloom Energy solid oxide fuel cells.
The switch to fuel cells will reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, air pollutants and the cost of power, in addition to providing reliable electricity independent of the power grid.
To produce electricity, Bloom Energy’s fuel cells could use renewable natural gas (RNG), natural gas, or hydrogen. The fuel cells at SoCalGas intake natural gas and oxygen and through an electrochemical reaction produce electricity without any combustion.
Bloom Energy Servers can operate at 60% efficiency and are considered one of the most efficient power solutions currently available, according to a statement by SoCalGas.
Maryam Brown, president of SoCalGas, said: “Using Bloom Energy’s fuel cells for our facilities is yet another way that SoCalGas is demonstrating its commitment to be an industry leader, supporting a 21st-century energy system.
“These on-site generation systems will provide clean, affordable, and resilient energy to key facilities so that we can ensure safe and reliable service to our 22 million customers.”
“The SoCalGas pipeline system is integral to many Bloom Energy Servers installed in central and southern California, so we were eager to team up again to bring fuel cells to SoCalGas’ facilities,” said Kris Kim, managing director of strategic development at Bloom Energy.
“Fuel cells at utility-owned sites are a natural fit as we are both looking to the future of energy and prioritise qualities like fuel flexibility, emissions reductions, efficiency and reliability.”
The fuel cells will reduce carbon emissions by 683 tonnes per year compared to the current grid profile, equivalent to eliminating annual GHG emissions produced by the electricity of 112 homes.
Because no fuel is burned to produce the electricity, smog-forming pollutants and particulate matter are reduced by more than 99%, and because they virtually eliminate all combustion-related pollutants, the California Air Resources Board has certified the Bloom Energy Servers as a Distributed Generation Technology that does not require a generation permit, a designation given only to the cleanest technologies in the state.
SoCalGas has pledged to replace 20% of its traditional natural gas supply with RNG by 2030.