Southern California Gas Co. (SoCalGas) has begun powering two of its largest Los Angeles-area facilities with Bloom Energy fuel cells.
The switch to fuel cells will reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, air pollutants and the cost of power, as well as provide reliable electricity independent of the power grid, a release stated.
Bloom has a plant in Newark.
The fuel cells at SoCalGas intake natural gas and oxygen, and through an electrochemical reaction, produce electricity without any combustion.
“Using Bloom Energy’s fuel cells for our facilities is yet another way that SoCalGas is demonstrating our commitment to be an industry leader supporting a 21st century energy system,” said Maryam Brown, president of SoCalGas. “These onsite 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.”
California offers incentives for using Bloom fuel cells. Bloom is based in San Jose, CA.
“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’ own 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 prioritize qualities like fuel flexibility, emissions reductions, efficiency, and reliability.”
In addition to providing cost savings and improving reliability of power, the fuel cells will lead to a reduction in carbon emissions by 683 metric tons per year compared to the current grid profile – which is like eliminating annual GHG emissions produced by the electricity use 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 do not require a generation permit.
Fuel cells can combine environmental benefits and the ability to provide uninterrupted power in the event of natural disasters or outages. While SoCalGas uses solar generation at six of its 113 facilities, the company selected the fuel cell solution for its Monterey Park and Pico Rivera facilities.
The Bloom Energy Servers at each of SoCalGas’ facilities total 950 kilowatts in size, replacing over 90% of the baseload power that would otherwise come from the grid.
Bloom Energy has deployed its Servers at 600 sites globally, and more than 85 of those are microgrids, which have powered through over 1,500 outages.
The environmental benefits of switching to fuel cells at these facilities are part of SoCalGas’ vision to be the cleanest gas utility in North America.
As part of its vision, the utility last year committed to replacing five percent of natural gas supplies to its core customers with renewable natural gas (RNG) by 2022 and 20 percent by 2030.
Gas delivered through the company’s pipelines also plays a key role in providing electricity to Californians— about45 percent of electric power generatedin the state comes from gas-fired power plants.