The city of Lancaster in California signed an agreement to host and co-own the largest renewable hydrogen project capable of producing nearly three times more hydrogen than any other facility in the world — existing or planned.
Located in northern Los Angeles County, the Lancaster plant is being planned on a 5-acre heavy industrial site. Solena Group energy company SGH2 signed the deal with the city, and expects ground to break on the plant in the first quarter of 2021, with startup and commissioning happening in Q4 2022, and full operations by Q1 2023.
The plant will use SGH2’s patented Solena Plasma Enhanced Gasification (SPEG) technology to gasify biogenic waste materials such as plastic, paper, tires, and textiles without any externally sourced energy. SGH2 said that, once completed, the Lancaster facility should produce as much as 11,000 kilograms of “green” hydrogen daily — 3.8 million kilograms per year — nearly three times more than any other renewable hydrogen facility worldwide.
“Berkeley Lab performed a preliminary lifecycle carbon analysis, which found that for every ton of hydrogen produced, SPEG technology reduces emissions by 23 to 31 tons of carbon dioxide equivalent, which is 13 to 19 tons more carbon dioxide avoided per ton than any other green hydrogen process,” the company stated. “And SGH2 hydrogen is five to seven times cheaper than other green hydrogen.”
SGH2 said that California’s largest hydrogen refueling station owners and operators are currently in negotiations to purchase the plant’s output. The company added that, once the plant is operational, its output is expected to go to hydrogen refueling stations for light-duty and heavy-duty fuel cell vehicles across the state.
Under the terms of the deal, the city will supply a guaranteed feedstock of recyclables, saving $50 to $75 per ton in landfilling and landfill space costs, the energy company noted.
“If we continue producing energy as we have been, we’re not going to be here in 50 years,” Lancaster Mayor R. Rex Parris recently told the LA Times. As the outlet pointed out, Parris also helped the city leave its privately-owned electric utility to purchase more renewable energy, and invited automaker BYD to establish an electric bus manufacturing plant there.
Plasma gasification technology, while especially promising for heavy-duty vehicles, has yet to be proven commercially, hydrogen experts cautioned in the LA Times. Lancaster officials hope to demonstrate its potential.
In a statement, Parris said that his city is looking for ways to ensure a better future as everyone copes with the coronavirus crisis. “We know a circular economy with renewable energy is the path, and we have positioned ourselves to be the alternative energy capital of the world,” he said.