Pacific Gas and Electric Co. (PG&E) is launching an end-to-end hydrogen study and demonstration facility. The effort is intended to examine the future potential of hydrogen as a zero-carbon fuel source for not only PG&E customers, but the broader natural gas industry.

The study, known as Hydrogen to Infinity (H2∞), would feature a large-scale project to blend hydrogen and natural gas in a stand-alone transmission pipeline system. PG&E and its partners would study different levels of hydrogen blends in a multi-feed, multi-directional natural gas pipeline system that is separate from PG&E’s current natural gas transmission system.

Partners of PG&E in this study include Northern California Power Agency (NCPA), Siemens Energy, the City of Lodi, GHD Inc., and the University of California at Riverside.

H2∞ would also allow the experimentation of hydrogen blends in a variety of end uses. NCPA’s Lodi Energy Center power plant is located adjacent to H2∞ and plans to use a hydrogen-natural gas blend for electric generation in a Siemens 5000F4 gas turbine.

H2∞ would use a new facility in Lodi to serve as a study laboratory incorporating production, pipeline transportation, storage, and combustion. In addition, PG&E could use the facility as the centerpiece for a potential Northern California hydrogen hub.

Many experts see joint use of natural gas infrastructure for hydrogen and natural gas as a win-win transition strategy. This would allow for a scale-up of production from renewables and from the electrolyzer industry by tapping into large, existing demand and its supply chain, specifically gas pipeline infrastructure. Transport and combustion of hydrogen and hydrogen-natural gas blends continues to be explored.

Major OEMs in the power generation industry like GE, Siemens and Mitsubishi Power have been focusing their efforts on hydrogen combustion in gas turbines, particularly for large-scale generation.

The industry has developed materials and systems to increase the concentration of hydrogen that can be combusted. According to the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE), these advances have allowed hydrogen to be fired at concentrations over 90% in simple-cycle turbines or aero-derivative machines, and at concentrations of up to 50% in large-frame combined-cycle turbines.

Large-frame turbines capable of firing hydrogen and natural gas blends of up to 30% hydrogen and aeroderivative turbines capable of firing over 90% hydrogen are commercially available today.

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