SoCalGas and Bloom Energy Powering Caltech with Innovative Campus Hydrogen Project 

The project demonstrates the potential to displace traditional natural gas with fuels like hydrogen, which can be made from clean renewable sources and foster the many environmental and economic benefits of a hydrogen economy. 

Southern California Gas Company and Bloom Energy are collaborating to power a portion of the campus grid at California Institute of Technology in Pasadena, California with an innovative hydrogen project, that demonstrates how hydrogen could offer a strong solution for long-duration clean energy storage and dispatchable power generation. 

The project at Caltech showcases how leveraging existing infrastructure with electrolyzers and fuel cell technology may be able to create microgrids that deliver resilient power and can help to safeguard businesses, communities, and campuses from power disruptions. At scale, this technology may help further California Governor Gavin Newsom’s recent strategic initiatives to develop a hydrogen economy

“It is becoming clearer with each passing day that hydrogen can and should play a key role in California’s efforts to reduce our reliance on fossil fuels,” said Senator Bob Archuleta, Chair of the Senate’s Select Committee on Hydrogen Energy. “Moreover, I am excited to see Caltech, one of our nation’s leading institutions, serving as a testbed for the use of hydrogen with this new and innovative technology on their campus.”    

“This collaborative effort represents a significant step in harnessing hydrogen as a resilient, clean energy solution that’s in line with Governor Newsom’s vision for California,” said Maryam Brown, President at SoCalGas. “Integrating cutting-edge electrolyzers and fuel cell technology into existing infrastructure demonstrates the potential for building robust microgrids, enhancing power resiliency for businesses, communities, and campuses at scale.” 

“We commend Governor Newsom and SoCalGas for their vision and leadership on the important work to develop the hydrogen economy,” said Greg Cameron, President and Chief Financial Officer at Bloom Energy. “As a California manufacturer of Bloom Electrolyzers, we are uniquely positioned to advance the goals of delivering clean and reliable energy in a post-carbon economy. We are working on a number of major opportunities to deliver our electrolyzers to customers to help grow hydrogen as a significant energy source in the U.S. and internationally.”  

The project takes water from Caltech’s service line and runs it through Bloom Energy’s solid oxide electrolyzer, which uses grid energy to create hydrogen. The resulting hydrogen is injected into Caltech’s natural gas infrastructure upstream of Bloom Energy fuel cells, creating up to a 20% blend of hydrogen and natural gas. All of this fuel blend is then converted into electricity with Bloom Energy’s fuel cells, and the electricity is then distributed for use on campus. 

Blending hydrogen into natural gas infrastructure statewide – which could help reduce dependence on fossil fuels and ultimately drive down hydrogen costs by scaling production, first requires developing a hydrogen injection standard. The global hydrogen economy is expected to potentially produce as much as 80 gigatons of carbon abatement by 2050, which represents approximately 11% of required cumulative emissions reductions. 

SoCal Gas H2 Innovation Experience 

SoCalGas recently unveiled its award winning H2 Innovation Experience, a state-of-the-art demonstration project designed to show the resiliency and reliability of a hydrogen microgrid.    

The H2 Innovation Experience is North America’s first-ever clean hydrogen powered microgrid and home. The project demonstrates how carbon-free gas made from renewable electricity can be used in pure form or as a blend to fuel energy systems and communities of the future. Named a World-Changing Idea by Fast Company and awarded the U.S. Green Building Council of L.A.’s Sustainable Innovation Award, the [H2]IE features clean hydrogen production and storage along with a nearly 2,000 square-foot home that can draw power from solar panels and convert excess renewable energy into clean hydrogen. 

When coupled with renewable energy, clean hydrogen could help facilitate a scalable, resilient, and decarbonized energy system, the company notes.  

Bloom Energy Electrolyzer 

Bloom Energy introduced its electrolyzer in 2021 as the most energy-efficient electrolyzer to produce clean hydrogen to date and 15 to 45 percent more efficient than any other product on the market at the time. The Bloom Electrolyzer relies on the same, commercially proven and proprietary solid oxide technology platform used by Bloom Energy Servers which are based upon the company’s core fuel cell product, to provide on-site electricity at high fuel efficiency. Highly flexible, it offers unique advantages for deployment across a broad variety of hydrogen applications, using multiple energy sources including intermittent renewable energy and excess heat. 

Superior Value at High Temperatures
Low-cost electrolysis has been difficult to achieve due to electricity costs, which can account for nearly 80 percent of the cost of hydrogen production through electrolysis. An opportunity has emerged, as renewable energy costs have declined precipitously over the last decade. Any reduction in electricity requirements makes hydrogen production more economical and scalable. 

Because it operates at high temperatures, the Bloom Electrolyzer requires less energy to break up water molecules and produce hydrogen. As a result, Bloom Energy’s electrolyzer consumes 15 percent less electricity than other electrolyzer technologies to make hydrogen when electricity is the sole input source. 

Unlike low-temperature PEM and alkaline electrolyzers that predominantly require electricity to make hydrogen, the Bloom Electrolyzer can leverage both electricity and heat to produce hydrogen. Its high-temperature electrolyzer technology has the potential to use up to 45 percent less electricity when integrated with external heat sources than low-temperature PEM and alkaline electrolyzers. 

“The launch of the Bloom Electrolyzer is a big leap forward in our mission to enable and empower the global hydrogen economy and a decarbonized society,” said KR Sridhar, founder, chairman, and CEO, Bloom Energy. “Hydrogen enables us to leverage abundant and inexpensive renewable energy to provide zero-carbon power, reliably—instead of intermittently.” 

Decarbonizing Heavy Industries
High-temperature electrolysis unlocks substantial value with heat-intensive processing applications in hard-to-decarbonize heavy industries, like steel, chemical, cement, and glass manufacturing. By utilizing excess heat from these processes, hydrogen can be produced at a higher electrical efficiency. Further, the hydrogen required to power high-temperature furnaces at these factories can be produced on-site using Bloom Energy electrolyzers, eliminating transportation and distribution costs.

Optimizing Intermittent Renewables 
When the Bloom Electrolyzer is paired with intermittent renewable resources, such as wind and solar, the resulting green hydrogen provides an important storage mechanism. Hydrogen can be stored for long periods of time and transported over long distances. Alternatively, Bloom Energy’s fuel cells can convert this hydrogen to electricity, thereby providing continuous, reliable power. 

About Bloom Energy: Enabling and Empowering the Global Hydrogen Economy 
Bloom Energy’s technology dates to the 1980s, when the co-founders first developed electrolyzers to support the military and later NASA’s Mars exploration programs. Bloom Energy believes this is the right moment to commercialize its hydrogen technology and collaborates with industry-leading organizations worldwide. Bloom Energy is headquartered in San Jose, California. For more information, see