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SoCalGas announces plan to help achieve California’s ambitious environmental goals

Published by , Editorial Assistant
Hydrocarbon Engineering,

Southern California Gas Co. (SoCalGas) has released a broad, inclusive and integrated plan to help achieve California's ambitious environmental goals in a paper titled ‘California's Clean Energy Future: Imagine the Possibilities’.

The plan embraces an all-of-the-above approach to fight climate change, keeps energy affordability as a key focus, calls for developing long-term renewable energy storage using existing infrastructure, and can aid in promoting rapid consumer adoption. The new strategy comes one month after SoCalGas announced its vision to be the cleanest natural gas utility in North America, delivering affordable and increasingly renewable energy to its customers. As part of that vision, SoCalGas committed to replace 20% of its traditional natural gas supply with renewable natural gas (RNG) by 2030.

"Achieving California's ambitious climate goals will require business leaders, non-governmental organisations, and policymakers to work together to re-imagine how California's energy infrastructure can operate as one, integrated system that maximises emissions reductions and minimises waste," said Bret Lane, SoCalGas chief executive officer. "Implementing a balanced approach that promotes advanced energy technologies will allow California to keep energy affordable and reliable and preserve consumer choice."

California already produces more renewable energy than residents and businesses can use on most days and reaching 100% renewable electricity isn't as simple as adding more solar panels and wind turbines. That's because there is a mismatch between when renewable energy is generated (during the day) and when people need it (around the clock). Without new solutions to long-term storage, by 2025, California is expected to waste enough renewable energy each year to power Los Angeles County for more than a month.

Advances in battery technology will help prevent some of this waste. However, batteries are most effective in managing short term demand for energy and are not well suited for long-term and seasonal energy storage. One example of a broad, inclusive view of energy is hydrogen. Hydrogen is a zero-emissions energy resource that has the potential to provide the long-term and seasonal energy storage on a scale that batteries cannot.

SoCalGas' strategy also calls for carbon dioxide (CO2) released from industrial processes and power plants to be captured and recycled as a raw material to produce a variety of products. Using Power-to-Gas technology, these carbon emissions can also be combined with hydrogen to form renewable gas to fuel homes, businesses and vehicles.

CCU technology is advancing quickly and many companies around the world are already using it. One California-based company is making plastics from captured carbon instead of petroleum. A Canadian company is using carbon captured from power plants to make stronger concrete. And a German company uses waste CO2 to make polymers. According to the Global CO2 initiative, the market for products made from CO2 could be more than US$800 billion and use 7 billion tpy of CO2 by 2030 – the equivalent of approximately 15% of current annual global CO2 emissions.

The plan released today calls on California to deploy every resource available to combat climate change, and specifically to:

  • Use the full suite of energy options currently available, including wind, solar, batteries and traditional natural gas.
  • Expand implementation of existing and nascent technologies such as RNG, Power-to-Gas, and carbon capture and utilisation.
  • Foster policies that allow for the development of innovative technologies and new ideas because California cannot assume that all the energy solutions to achieve carbon neutrality are known and in existence today.

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