SoCalGas Thursday released details of its proposed “Angeles Link” project to create what the utility says would be the largest hydrogen energy infrastructure system in the United States.
The utility said the project — which was submitted to the California Public Utilities Commission on Thursday — could displace up to 3 million gallons of diesel fuel per day, eliminate up to 25,000 tons of smog-forming nitrogen oxide per year and provide the clean fuel to convert up to four natural gas power plants to green hydrogen.
“The challenges we face on climate require solutions of scale and urgency. The Angeles Link is designed to meet those challenges head-on,” said Scott Drury, CEO of SoCalGas.
“Today in Southern California we’re announcing plans for one of the world’s largest clean energy infrastructure systems, to help tackle emissions for which there are no easy answers. Those emissions — from power plants, industry, and heavy-duty trucks — very much `count’ and must be significantly reduced to reach our and the state’s climate goals,” Drury continued.
However, environmental protection activists with Food & Water Watch Los Angeles criticized SoCalGas for touting the project as “green,” responding that hydrogen requires 9 kg of water for every 1 kg of hydrogen produced, and the region is in the midst of a mega-drought that a UCLA study said Tuesday is the most extreme in at least 1,200 years. The group added that hydrogen development has the potential to perpetuate fossil fuel infrastructure.
“Californians are not blind to SoCalGas’ profiteering,” the group’s director Alexandra Nagy said. “Time and again SoCalGas has shown a willingness to destroy our climate and health while jacking up rates to make profit by any means necessary. We would be foolish to let SoCalGas sell us on schemes like green hydrogen that divert us from real energy solutions and hijack our water resources.”
As proposed, the hydrogen system would support the integration of solar and wind energy to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from electricity, industrial processes, heavy-duty trucks and other hard-to-electrify sectors of the economy, according to SoCalGas.
The amount of green hydrogen delivered would be equal to about 25% of the natural gas that SoCalGas currently delivers, the utility said.
The Los Angeles Department of Water and Power’s chief engineer and general manager, Marty Adams, welcomed the idea of a hydrogen energy system of this scale in Los Angeles, saying “affordable green hydrogen is key to achieving our clean energy future by 2035.”
The city of Los Angeles officially set a goal last year of powering the city entirely on renewable energy by 2035. The details on how to get the city to 100% renewable energy are still being developed.
Councilman John Lee said the Angeles Link proposal is the first he has seen that will make a substantial dent in the city’s need for natural gas without risking grid reliability.
“I support the goals of this proposal because it will help us get one step closer to achieving the city’s goal of 100% clean energy by 2035 without compromising reliability and hurting jobs,” he said.