Renewable hydrogen can be made from water and surplus wind or hydropower, through a process known as power-to-gas.
Hydrogen can be used in most processes that today use natural gas: heating, power generation, manufacturing and industry. It can power fuel cells for data centers and backup power systems, and can fuel almost any kind of vehicle: cars, trucks, trains, ships — even airplanes.
Why Use Hydrogen?
Hydrogen produced via power-to-gas gives us a way to capture and save renewable energy instead of letting it go to waste. The natural gas system gives us a way to store and distribute it.
Studies suggest much of our existing pipeline infrastructure could be modified to handle hydrogen blends up to 20% or converted to 100% hydrogen service. Several European companies already deliver blends of hydrogen and natural gas in local distribution systems, with similar projects being developed in the U.S. and Canada.
NW Natural is actively supporting the development of clean hydrogen in the Pacific Northwest. We’ve joined with utilities, research universities and industry partners to develop standards and practices for safely blending hydrogen into our natural gas pipeline network. At our Sherwood Operations and Training Center we’re testing how different blends of hydrogen and natural gas work in our equipment and various types of appliances.
In 2021 we joined the Low-Carbon Resources Initiative (LCRI), a joint effort by the Electric Power Research Institute (EPRI) and Gas Technology Institute (GTI) addressing the need to accelerate development and demonstration of low- and zero-carbon energy technologies. This five-year initiative, which has surpassed $100 million in funding, is targeting fundamental advances in a variety of low-carbon electric generation technologies and low-carbon energy carriers, providing scientific credibility and objectivity to the global decarbonization effort. Learn more.
We’re working with Eugene Water and Electric Board (EWEB), Bonneville Environmental Foundation and others to explore renewable hydrogen production in Eugene, Oregon, using low-carbon and renewable electricity. Under the proposal, renewable hydrogen, made on site, could be combined with carbon dioxide, a waste byproduct captured from a nearby industrial customer, to create a synthetic renewable gas and piped into NW Natural’s gas supply. Read about the renewable hydrogen production facility.
We also supported Oregon State University – Cascades engineering students in the 2017-2018 Hydrogen Education Foundation’s international student design competition. The OSU team’s proposal for a power-to-gas installation and design placed third overall in this international contest. Congratulations!
Renewable Hydrogen Alliance
NW Natural helped establish the Renewable Hydrogen Alliance in 2018 to convene interested parties in our region on emerging hydrogen and power-to-gas technologies. Since then, the association has grown to nearly 80 members including utilities, advocacy groups, manufacturers, project developers, and others dedicated to the mission of using renewables to create clean fuels.
The Alliance has successfully worked on legislation in both Oregon and Washington state. In Oregon, the Alliance sponsored legislation that directs the state’s energy department to study benefits of, and barriers to, renewable hydrogen production and use in Oregon.