Southern said its subsidiary, Southern Company Gas, which serves 4.2 million gas utility customers through its regulated distribution companies in four states, will “spearhead” the two-year project.
“Natural gas is a critical partner in the growth of renewables as we foresee numerous opportunities to leverage our existing infrastructure to support clean energy, such as hydrogen,” Mark Berry, vice president of R&D at Southern Co. said in a statement.
He said that introducing hydrogen into existing natural gas infrastructure has national and regional benefits for energy storage, resiliency and emissions reductions.
Atlanta-based Southern Company said it has put together a team of “more than 20 participants” from industry and academia to conduct the research effort. It said the project “will encompass more than $15 million in hydrogen research.”
The Southern announcement said its team “is comprised of” six US Department of Energy national laboratories ― National Renewable Energy Laboratory, Sandia National Laboratories, Pacific Northwest National Laboratory, Oak Ridge National Laboratory, Argonne National Laboratory, and the National Energy Technology Laboratory.
The HyBlend R&D project was selected by the DOE’s Hydrogen and Fuel Cell Technologies Office in the Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy.
“We’re working with industry to answer their high-priority research questions,” Michael Peters, HyBlend project engineer at NREL said.
“First, are pipelines compatible with hydrogen? Second, what are the costs and environmental impacts? And finally, how will hydrogen blends affect appliances and other equipment in buildings?”
Zachary Lowe, director at Southern Company Gas, said in the statement, “Blending hydrogen into existing natural gas infrastructure enables us to further understand the infrastructure’s capabilities, which is essential for achieving carbon reduction goals.”