SoCalGas breaks ground on first-of-its-kind technology to produce clean hydrogen 

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California Construction News staff writer

Southern California Gas Co. (SoCalGas) recently celebrated an official ground-breaking on construction of a first-of-its-kind advanced hydrogen generation system at SunLine Transit Agency in Thousand Palms. The project, H2 SilverSTARS, will produce hydrogen from renewable natural gas (RNG) and help fuel SunLine’s fleet of 17 hydrogen fuel cell electric buses.

“We’ve been anticipating for this day to arrive and I’m excited construction has begun. Californians will need access to hydrogen and this demonstration project will provide insight during this energy transition,” said Glenn Miller City of Indio Councilmember and SunLine Chair. “Once widely adopted, this project will help meet our state’s climate goals.”

The demonstration project has the potential to provide clean hydrogen at any location adjacent to a natural gas pipeline, and will test STARS’ technology, which was developed at the Pacific Northwest National Lab.

After its installation, the first STARS system will produce up to 80 kilograms of clean hydrogen a day, that’s enough to fuel three of SunLine’s zero-emission buses per day.

“For several years now, the high cost of transporting hydrogen has been the big problem with rolling out fuel cell vehicles in California,” said Robert Wegeng, president of STARS Technology Corporation. “This demonstration elegantly solves the problem with a compact, mass-produced hydrogen generator that can be placed on the gas grid in close proximity to filling stations and other places where cheap hydrogen is useful. Better yet, the hydrogen can meet the new Federal “Clean Hydrogen Standard” for regional hydrogen hubs since it can be produced from renewable natural gas.”

Earlier this year, SoCalGas announced a proposal to develop Angeles Link, a dedicated green hydrogen energy infrastructure system that could deliver clean, reliable energy to the Los Angeles basin to provide a path to decarbonize hard-to electrify sectors such as electric generation, industries that require clean fuels and cannot currently be electrified, and heavy-duty transportation.

Clean fuel vehicles are expected to play an important role in meeting the state’s climate and clean air goals. In California, Governor Newsom’s executive order requires that all new cars sold in the state be zero-emissions by 2035. Californians having access to clean hydrogen generation systems, like H2 SilverSTARS, could be part of the clean energy transition.

SunLine Transit Agency recently received a California Energy Commission award for the construction of a 15,000 – 18,000-gallon liquid hydrogen fueling station. This station will create fueling resiliency for the agency and is the first liquid hydrogen project in SunLine’s thirty-year history. This liquid station is yet another element in the creation of a zero-emission blueprint for transit and fleet operators across the nation.

For more information about SoCalGas’ hydrogen innovation, visit http://socalgas.com/hydrogen.

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