In the pursuit of a sustainable future, hydrogen has emerged as a prominent player in the global clean energy transition. Companies like NiSource Inc. and Sempra Energy are leading the way in harnessing the potential of hydrogen as a key driver of a greener energy landscape.
NiSource recently launched a multi-phase hydrogen blending project, marking a pioneering effort in the United States to combine natural gas and hydrogen at precise levels using a blending skid in a controlled environment. The goal of this project is to determine the optimal blend percentages and their benefits for consumers and the planet. Similarly, Sempra Energy, based in San Diego, is also testing electrolytic hydrogen blending into existing natural gas infrastructure. The company is also working on what could potentially be the largest green hydrogen energy infrastructure system in the nation.
NiSource envisions significant investments in hydrogen production, transportation, and storage, following the conclusion of its current five-year $15 billion capital plan in 2027. To turn this vision into reality, NiSource is developing the capacity to handle hydrogen safely and efficiently. The company aims to demonstrate to policymakers that low-carbon hydrogen can effectively decarbonize gas utility services. Several hydrogen projects have been announced in the U.S., and NiSource’s pilot project, led by its subsidiary Columbia Gas of Pennsylvania Inc., will test a 20% hydrogen blend in natural gas distribution infrastructure. This project will determine the feasibility of hydrogen blending and its potential benefits. The project is a collaboration between Columbia Gas and EN Engineering, and they will create a blending skid to inject hydrogen into the gas stream at different percentages, ranging from 2% to 20%. The project will also assess the impact of various blending concentrations on different gas appliances through a model home, ensuring proper equipment functionality and identifying necessary adjustments.
Safety and regulatory compliance are top priorities for NiSource in hydrogen blending. The company will share data with the US Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration to monitor the impact of hydrogen-gas blends on pipeline materials. Additionally, NiSource’s subsidiary, Northern Indiana Public Service Co. LLC (NIPSCO), plans to repower one of its turbines using a blend of gas and hydrogen.
CEO Lloyd Yates emphasizes the importance of policies that incentivize efforts driving the hydrogen transition. He highlights federal tax credits and initiatives like the Appalachian Regional Clean Hydrogen Hub (ARCH2). NiSource supports this application to secure a subsidy from the Energy Department’s funding program for setting up regional hydrogen hubs. The Indiana-based utility aims to achieve net-zero Scope 1 and 2 emissions by 2040. Hydrogen blending can further help the company address its elusive Scope 3 emissions, which are associated with customer gas use. By burning hydrogen as a fuel, only water vapor is emitted, making it a greenhouse gas-free option when renewable sources are used. NiSource’s hydrogen and natural gas blending strategy is part of its “Future of Energy” program, which encompasses renewable energy, electrification strategies, and renewable natural gas pathways. The project aims to provide an alternative to electrification for customers facing financial challenges, allowing them to reduce their carbon emissions without purchasing new appliances.
Sempra Energy, along with NiSource, is also exploring hydrogen projects to meet the nation’s clean energy goals. With a strong focus on sustainability, Sempra has initiated over 20 hydrogen R&D projects to enhance grid resilience and promote decarbonization. The company collaborates with strategic research partners and has provided funding of $140 million in the last two years for research, development, and demonstration projects related to cleaner fuels, hydrogen technology, and infrastructure. One of Sempra’s subsidiaries, Southern California Gas Co. (SoCalGas), is partnering with the University of California, Irvine on a demonstration project to safely blend electrolytic hydrogen into the campus’ existing natural gas pipeline. Testing for this blending project is expected to begin next year once approved. The joint initiative aims to understand how hydrogen can be delivered at scale through California’s natural gas system, either for existing customers or to produce clean electricity in zero-emissions fuel cells. The project will involve using an electrolyzer to convert water into hydrogen for blending into the UCI campus gas grid, powering residential and light commercial equipment.
SoCalGas plans to start with a 5% hydrogen blend, with the goal of reaching up to 20%, similar to NiSource’s blending project. The ultimate objective is to significantly reduce customer emissions from gas use. SoCalGas has committed to achieving net-zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2045, making it the first large natural gas utility in the country to do so. Its parent company, Sempra, aims to achieve net-zero emissions by 2050. Sempra has also proposed the Angeles Link, which could become the largest green hydrogen energy infrastructure system in the country. This initiative aims to deliver cleaner energy to sectors that are challenging to electrify, such as heavy-duty transportation and industrial processes. By replacing fossil fuel-powered trucks with hydrogen fuel cell trucks, Sempra Energy aims to eliminate up to 3 million gallons of diesel per day and displace approximately 25,000 tons of carbon emissions annually.
The efforts of companies like NiSource and Sempra Energy demonstrate the growing importance of hydrogen in the clean energy equation. As the world strives towards a sustainable future, hydrogen is emerging as a viable alternative to electrification, offering a pathway to reduce carbon emissions and promote a greener energy landscape.
(Note: The article has been edited to remove brand mentions at the end of the original content.)