SoCalGas has powered two of its largest facilities with Bloom Energy’s solid oxide fuel cells microgrid for over a year and the results have been successful. The fuel cells were installed at the Pico Rivera and Monterey Park facilities in July of 2020. Since the installation, both helped reduce greenhouse gas emissions (GHG), air pollution, utility costs, and provided uninterrupted power. The fuel cells are capable of using natural gas, renewable natural gas, or hydrogen to produce electricity without combustion through an electrochemical reaction.
In 2019, before the installation, the two facilities had a combined electric grid power usage of 9.6 million kWh. Since the installment in July 2020 through the end of 2021, the fuel cells have helped to reduce grid power usage by 76 percent.
In addition, the fuel cells have proven to be a dependable source of energy. The microgrid has provided reliable power independent of the electric grid, making the facilities resilient during public safety power shutoffs and other potential natural disasters. In fact, at times, the facilities’ fuel cells have over-generated power, and the surplus electricity was fed back to the main grid.
“The one-year results are substantial as California transitions to a carbon-neutral future,” said Jawaad Malik vice president of strategy and sustainability and chief environmental officer. “We’re working to reduce our carbon footprint with innovative technologies and the sooner we diversify our portfolio, the faster California can decarbonize.”
“We are proud to support utilities like SoCalGas as they work to cost-effectively combat climate change and add resiliency to their facilities,” said Kris Kim, vice president of global commercial operations at Bloom Energy. “Bloom’s mission is to make clean, reliable energy affordable for all, and our technology is naturally suited to support SoCalGas’ journey to net zero.”
The transition to fuel cells supports SoCalGas’ ASPIRE 2045 climate goals and our recent clean fuels analysis. By 2035, we plan to achieve net zero energy for 100% of SoCalGas Buildings. Also, our analysis shows that fuel cell technology can provide opportunities to help improve customer safety and address resiliency needs by providing backup power in case of an outage, especially in high-risk wildfire areas.
Clean fuels combined with electrification, carbon management, and technologies like fuel cells deliver the most affordable, resilient, and technologically proven path to full carbon neutrality. The fuel cells are a prime example of the collaboration needed to help scale these technologies and show how they can deliver resilient, clean energy. By leveraging the gas system to deliver clean fuels and to manage carbon, California can reach carbon neutrality more affordably, more equitably, and with less risk of power disruptions, customer conversion barriers, and technological limitations.
Malik said, “The use of fuel cells is another part of the climate solution, this is yet another way we are demonstrating our commitment to be the cleanest, safest and most innovative gas utility in the country.”
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