Southern California-based utility holding company Sempra Energy will further its longtime partnership with the National Renewable Energy Laboratory to advance future net-zero energy systems.
Sempra announced it has signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) with NREL to prove a framework for the energy transition. The MOU, Sempra says, buildings off of nearly 10 years of ongoing collaboration between the two.
The work will include furthering research and development efforts to innovate new ways of achieving zero-carbon emissions. NREL is part of the U.S. Department of Energy.
“To achieve global carbon-neutrality, energy systems will need to transform dramatically over the coming decades. Our partnership with NREL drives forward a vision to advance the energy systems of the future by focusing on innovation and resiliency,” said Lisa Alexander, senior vice president of corporate affairs and chief sustainability officer for Sempra Energy. “New investment and innovative partnerships are critical to developing solutions that will manifest a global energy transition while promoting economic growth and prosperity.”
Sempra Energy and NREL have been collaborating for nearly a decade on cooperative and multi-year projects exploring the development, access and integration of low-carbon fuels and microgrid technology. In 2013, Sempra Energy’s subsidiary San Diego Gas & Electric Co. and NREL joined to establish the nation’s first utility-owned community microgrid in Borrego Springs, Calif., connected to a local 26-MW solar field (owned by a third party), two battery storage systems, two generators, and an ultracapacitor.
The microgrid, which is being upgraded so that it can operate on 100% clean energy, was designed to provide consistent power flowing to the remote desert town during emergencies and planned outages on the larger grid.
“Building on our strong history of collaboration, we are excited to accelerate our work with Sempra to advance clean energy solutions,” said Doug Arent, executive director for strategic public-private partnerships at NREL. “Researching key synergies across power, low carbon fuels and industrial sectors are expected to provide critical innovations toward realizing a low carbon, equitable, affordable, secure and reliable energy economy.”
In 2017, Sempra Energy’s subsidiary Southern California Gas Co. and NREL partnered to create, validate and integrate the nation’s first carbon-free, power-to-gas pilot-system. The technology takes excess electricity and converts it to hydrogen, which can be used, stored, or combined with carbon dioxide and fed to a bioreactor to produce renewable natural gas (RNG).