Utility-scale solar farms will be necessary to reach renewable goals but can cause electric system congestion. To improve project viability, Low Carbon Fuel Standard (LCFS) pathways for renewable hydrogen delivered by utilizing the natural gas system in California are proposed and evaluated. This paper contextualizes the carbon footprint of these novel pathways compared to producing hydrogen via steam methane reformation specially for the transporatation sector. A sensitivity analysis for average grid carbon intensity, electrolyzer capital costs, and LCFS credit price is conducted to understand scenarios in which electrolytic hydrogen in this setting suggest economic and environmental viability.

Introduction and Background

Growing renewables deployment in California has generated new challenges. The California power market operates using price nodes, which is an effective framework to manage congestion in the wholesale sector through price signals and Singh and Bohre [1] details other ways to manage congestion. Still energy storage is an increasingly interesting solution to many of these challenges. For example, Headley and Copp [2] evaluate energy storage system ability to help with the power ramping requirements needed in California in the context of solar curtailment. Yan et al. [3] suggest that renewable curtailment can be benefitted by power-to-gas, using an electrolyzer to convert surplus electricity to hydrogen to be blended in the natural gas system.

Specifically in California, there is large revenue potential from the Low Carbon Fuel Standard (LCFS) program where credits are generated and is dependent upon the reference fuel carbon intensity (CI) and the CI of the alternative fuel pathway in consideration (i.e., hydrogen).

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