We're creating an efficient, clean energy future through our investments in emerging and new technologies that help our customers and our employees use energy more efficiently and productively.
We invest in new and emerging utility operating technologies that can be deployed to increase the productivity of our transmission and distribution operations.
Project Selection Criteria
All investment opportunities are carefully screened to identify those that offer the best potential value to the utility and ratepayers. Project selection criteria include the following:
- Technology concept and potential impact (revolutionary vs. evolutionary)
- Alignment with corporate strategies
- Probability of success
- Fit with SoCalGas’ overall portfolio balance
- Potential for partnering/co-funding, or “leveraging” with others
- Potential to become commercial within three to five years
- Potential for adoption by our customers or our transmission and distribution (T&D) operations
- SoCalGas’ value as a potential strategic partner (e.g., not merely a traditional venture capital investor)
- Positive due diligence, which typically includes a review of the potential partner’s research, development and demonstration (RD&D) strategy, overall business plan, existing and potential stakeholders, management team, intellectual property assets, competitive analysis and projected sales forecast.
- Favorable terms and conditions with a clearly defined SoCalGas® exit strategy.
Green Technology Investments
We invest about $10 million each year on research, development and demonstration of new and emerging clean, energy-efficient technologies. Our goal is to bring these technologies to residential, commercial, industrial, power generation and transportation markets to help reduce their energy use. From residential and clean transportation applications to renewables, here are some examples of projects we've invested in:
Zero Net-Energy Homes
New homes built will be so efficient that their total energy consumption will be near zero through the use of solar and other technologies.
Natural Gas Heat-Pump Water Heaters
Efficiency and emission mandates drive the need for a natural gas heat-pump water heater. The potential development could lower the cost of ownership for all natural gas options and be retrofitted with most common natural gas storage water heating.
Commercial Food Service
Wok, Wok, Wok
Wok ranges, commonly used in Asian-style restaurants, use a burner system with an efficiency of 10 to 15 percent. SoCalGas developed and demonstrated a new commercial wok range to significantly increase the energy efficiency. Working in conjunction with a popular Asian fast food chain, research entity and manufacturer, the project designed a burner retrofit package. The technology increases the efficiency more than 20 percent, while maintaining the current production level of woks.
Low Oil-Volume Fryer
The low oil-volume fryer reduces operational costs by reducing the required volume of oil used to cook from about 50 pounds for a typical deep fat fryer to about 30 pounds. The technology was licensed to a leading manufacturer to to commercialize the product to customers.
Natural Gas-Fired Warewasher
Working with the Gas Technology Institute and a leading manufacturer to develop and demonstrate a commercial restaurant warewasher using high efficiency burner technology. A field demonstration will be conducted in Southern California to validate performance.
Low-Nitrogen Oxides (NOx) Ribbon Burner
Meeting stringent emission requirements without the sacrifice of efficiency, process control or profitability is challenging for industries ranging from food production to material thermoforming. SoCalGas is funding a new development of an advanced low-NOx ribbon burner concept that can provide both cost and environmental benefits in a broad range of agricultural and industrial applications. A demonstration at a Southern California bakery will show this advanced low NOx and fuel-efficient technology which will replace the conventional ribbon burner combustion systems to reduce natural gas use and pollutant emissions in California’s industrial, agriculture and water sectors.
Ultra Low-NOx Boiler
SoCalGas, along with the Gas Technology Institute, and leading manufacturers, will demonstrate an efficient, emerging, ultra low-NOx burner technology, termed Dynamic Staged Entrained burner (DSE). The DSE burner will be installed with a commercial firetube boiler at a linen supply company in Santa Barbara. The DSE burner offers a cost-competitive alternative to currently available equipment for the commercial hot water/steam generation market in California, in an easy to operate and simple design. Extensive laboratory evaluations of the technology under simulated real world conditions have proven the DSE burner is capable of meeting sub 9 ppm NOx levels, while operating with relatively low excess air and high-efficiency levels.
Power Generation and Combined Heat and Power Applications
Combined Heat and Power (CHP) Demonstration
At our data center facility in Monterey Park, we’re demonstrating an innovative CHP Hybrid with uninterruptable power supply (UPS) technology, introduced by the world's leading producer of low-emission microturbine systems. Integrated with a Thermax absorption chiller, the clean-and-green power generated onsite will produce enough electric power to meet the center’s cooling needs in the summer.
FlexCHP Demonstration in Food Processing
With substantial funding support from California Energy Commission (CEC), SoCalGas worked with the Gas Technology Institute and developed a high-efficiency, ultra-clean power and steam package that includes a 65 kilowatt (kW) microturbine and use of an ultra low-NOx, forced internal recirculation burner technology incorporated into a waste heat boiler. Testing at a legume product manufacturer in Riverside demonstrated that the FlexCHP system is capable of meeting CARB 2007 NOx emission requirements for distributed generation systems.
CHP Demonstration in Commercial Greenhouses
CEC and SoCalGas funded the demonstration of a CHP project that includes the installation of three ultra low-emission natural gas-fueled reciprocating engines (total electrical output of 13.2 MW). Waste heat from the engine jacket and exhaust stack is captured and stored in multiple thermal storage tanks, which are used for hydronic heating of the facilities' six greenhouses. The exhaust stack from the engines is combined with that of the facility’s boilers. The exhaust is cooled to ambient temperatures and fed into greenhouses to increase CO2 concentrations for enhanced crop production.
Emission Controls for Rich Burn Engines
In collaboration with the CEC, SoCalGas sponsored a technology development and demonstration program with a next-generation manufacturer of natural gas-fueled, engine-driven CHP products to develop an ultra low emission engine control technology package for a 100 kW CHP engine system. This unique technology that reduces NOx and CO emissions using an advanced catalyst design where engine exhaust is cooled as it flows between catalyst elements. Engine systems have been successfully tested at two CHP sites in Southern California (a community pool and at residential development's community center).
In another program, SoCalGas and CEC-funded leader in fuel control to develop and demonstrate an engine emission control technology based on utilization of advanced electronic gas control valves and use of a NOx sensor for feedback control. The technology has been successfully demonstrated on engines at a wood processing plant in Fontana and at SoCalGas' Honor Rancho facilities.