Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00
0:00
Available On Air Stations
podcast_1400-MiddayEdition.jpg
KPBS Midday Edition Segments

SDG&E Announces It Intends To Eliminate Carbon Emissions By 2045

Speaker 1: 00:00 San Diego gas and electric has announced its intention to produce power with zero carbon emissions by the year 2045, the year corresponds to California's target gold get 100% of its electricity from carbon zero sources, SDG, and he says their roadmap to net zero includes green hydrogen projects and increased clean energy storage capacity projects that are planned to be launched in San Diego within the next two years. But critics doubt the utility's climate friendly goals. As long as the fossil fuel natural gas remains such a big part of its portfolio. Joining me is San Diego union Tribune, energy reporter, Rob nickel, Lasky, and Rob, welcome back. Good to be back, Maureen. First of all, is this goal of zero emissions by 2045, a departure from SDG and these goals in the past. Haven't they been saying they've been working all along to provide cleaner energy. Speaker 2: 01:00 Yeah, I think this is more a extension of that. They've come out with sustainability reports in the past and the utility has touted the fact that they use, I believe it's 40 to 45%, uh, clean energy in their system. Um, more than the other utilities in California. So I think this is more an extension of what they've already add, but it's, uh, you know, the fact that it's, they want to get to a hundred percent net zero, I think is a notable. Speaker 1: 01:32 Why is there an emphasis on hydrogen projects? Wasn't that something that came and went in the George Bush administration, right? Speaker 2: 01:40 Oh, hydrogen's made a comeback first. It was in Europe a couple of years ago. You started seeing on number of energy companies, number of governments in Europe, talking about hydrogen and implementing hydrogen. And now it's finally come to the United States. Literally within the last few months, you've seen a lot more talk about it in energy circles and hydrogen is not an energy source. It's an energy carrier. And that distinction is important because what the plan is that you're going to inject hydrogen into natural gas pipelines, for example, or you're going to inject it into, um, factories that used cement, lots of places that use a lot of CO2 emissions or, or have a lot of CO2 emissions. Hydrogen can help neutralize that. And so you're seeing that more and more as part of the discussion, Speaker 1: 02:34 Where will the hydrogen projects be set up in the County? Speaker 2: 02:37 Well, they've got to have one in Borrego. Springs will be a pilot project. They already have FTG already has a micro grid in Borrego Springs. That'll be the first one. The second one will be at the Palomar energy center in Escondido. And both of those cases are gonna use what is called an electrolyzer and you take hydrogen from a fuel source. In this case, it'll be solar excess solar that California generates a lot of during the mid day for I'll take that solar, send it through an electrolysis or electrolyzer through the electrolysis process and then convert that into energy. Speaker 1: 03:17 Now there are also three battery storage facilities planned to open in the County. How is SDG any planning to use them? Speaker 2: 03:25 Well, they're going to have one called top gun energy storage program in Miramar. They're going to have another one. Uh, these are all lithium ion battery projects, by the way, there's another one in Kearny, Mesa, and another one in Fallbrook. And what they'll be doing is they'll be, it's an extension of something that the California public utilities commission has been essentially directing the big utilities to do, which is have a lot more energy storage projects in the coming years very quickly because one of the real problems is that solar and wind, uh, production, which is clean, uh, carbon free. The problem with solar and wind is that they're intermittent when the sun doesn't shine or the wind doesn't blow, you're not able to generate any electricity and that's especially problem that night because you don't have any solar. So you need fossil fuel based products like natural gas to make up that gap. If you want to try to displace natural gas, you have to have another source. And the goal that people are trying to reach is okay, energy storage, battery storage, where you can save up energy and use it during these, uh, nighttime hours or hours when the grid is at its peak, that's really the key. And that's why there's this emphasis on battery storage and energy storage in general. Speaker 1: 04:49 Now, speaking of natural gas critics, you spoke with say SDG and E can't boast about zero emissions. When it's still in the natural gas business. Can you tell us the extent of the utilities, natural gas commitment? Speaker 2: 05:03 Well, the utility, it's probably not surprising when you think the title of the utility is San Diego gas and electric. Yeah. They want to be able to keep their natural gas system in place. They say, uh, that, uh, natural gas is essential to what we just talked about. Um, being able to deliver a dispatchable source of energy when solar and wind are not producing and a relatively low price. And so they want to keep natural gas in the system. The environmentalist wants to be able to displace natural gas as quickly as possible. And that's orally really is sort of the larger push and pull that we've seen in the last few years in California, especially because California has this goal to drive 100% of its electricity by 2045 from carbon free sources Speaker 1: 05:55 And STG and its parent companies. Sempra are also in the international liquid, natural gas business. Aren't they? Speaker 2: 06:03 Yeah. The liquified natural gas business has been booming in the United States and Sempra, even though it's based in San Diego has been jumping on this really with both feet. They've already spent $10 billion on a liquified natural gas facility in Louisiana on the Gulf coast and liquified natural gas for LNG. What they do is they take natural gas and then you super cool it to where it changes from being a gas into a liquid. And then you ship that liquified natural gas to markets all across the world. Now the defenders of liquified natural gas say liquified natural gas or natural gas in general is much cleaner than coal. What it does burn twice as clean, but on the other hand, it still is a fossil fuel. And that's where, as you mentioned, critics of this are saying that well, as long as you still have fossil fuel in your system, how can you really say that? Okay, our subsidiary STG is going, uh, net zero Speaker 1: 07:04 Is this new net zero goal of SDG. And E's likely to call San Diego. It's more on their utility bills. Speaker 2: 07:11 I think so, but that's something that's overall in California, utility bills are going up and it's not just because of one thing or another thing. It's multiple things. If you're going to make this energy transition that California is going to make, you're going to have to make these investments in energy storage. For example, lithium ion batteries right now with the, my own battery costs, they have come down, but they're still more expensive than natural gas. So with the state making these inducements, they can these directive saying, we need to explore these things. We need to exercise these, um, uh, these possibilities, these options, explore these options and make them a reality that adds on to a utility payers. Bill Speaker 1: 07:55 And I have been speaking with San Diego union Tribune, energy reporter, Rob Nicole Leschi. Rob, thank you so much. Speaker 2: 08:02 Thank you, Maureen.

Ways To Subscribe
MiddayEd_generic-new_g9HlwrX.jpg
SDG&E said its roadmap to net zero includes green hydrogen projects and increased clean energy storage capacity. But critics doubt the utility’s climate-friendly goals, as long as the fossil fuel natural gas remains such a big part of its portfolio.
KPBS Midday Edition Segments