Lancaster, CA becomes US’ first hydrogen city

Lancaster, CA becomes US’ first hydrogen city

“Hydrogen is the future, it is the decarbonisation strategy of the future, and we will lead the effort with other cities following in Lancaster’s footsteps,” Lancaster, California Mayor R. Rex Parris said, as he declared the metropolis to be America’s first hydrogen city.

Parris embarked on a mission to decarbonise the city, just north of Los Agenels, with hydrogen over a decade ago.

He attracted companies that have already built innovative hydrogen projects and are being developed with major companies like Hitachi Zosen Inova.

The Mayor then developed a comprehensive plan for the city to achieve its hydrogen goals, announcing it publicly at City Council meetings to involve local residents and educate the public on the benefits of hydrogen to Lancaster.

Recently, more companies and other cities have seen Lancaster’s success and want to join the movement by following the city’s plan.

On Friday (6th Nov), Parris hosted Japanese government officials (pictured above) to discuss pairing Lancaster with a “smart” city in Japan which is equally devoted to integrated hydrogen into its power grid, fuel distribution, storage and use.

The Mayor said he is confident that Japan may be the first stop on a pathway for cities around the world to shift into using hydrogen.

The Japanese delegation included Mr. Imai, Consul of the Consulate General of Japan, and Mr. Saeki, Executive Director of the Japan External Trade Organization.

Lancaster is beginning sister-city type relationships with other cities seeking to emulate Lancaster’s strategy, sharing a roadmap. Parris envisions other Tier-2 cities as excellent candidates.

“The transition to hydrogen does not have to be limited to the world’s most famous large cities. In fact, cities our size can do some things they can’t,” Parris said.

“Current plans include building out hydrogen fuelling stations for light-duty and heavy-duty vehicles.”

“We support the state’s goals for greenhouse gas (GHG) reductions and hydrogen is a great way to get there faster.”

Hydrogen projects

After the development of a huge solar generation capacity, Lancaster City Council realised that the city had the power to dramatically impact the energy status quo.

Many changes couldn’t happen at the state or federal level. Lancaster formed its own utility company, Lancaster Choice Energy, and offered residents locally-generated green energy at lower prices and generating revenue for the city.

Lancaster continued on to become the first city to go net-zero, generating more clean energy than consumed.

Lancaster was also the first city to require all new homes to have solar and with community partners were able to build the first large scale all-electric bus fleet.

“Along the way, we realised that electrons are not necessarily the best medium for storing energy,” the Mayor said, explaining the shift in strategy.

“Hydrogen can be stored easily and for long periods of time, even in the existing gas grid. It’s the perfect resource for balancing the grid with our large amount of intermittent renewable resources, which only work when the sun shines and the wind blows.”

Currently, SGH2 is bringing a green hydrogen production facility to Lancaster. The plant will gasify recycled mixed paper waste to produce green hydrogen that reduces carbon emissions by two to three times more than green hydrogen produced using electrolysis and renewable energy, and is five to seven times cheaper.

Developed by NASA scientist Dr. Salvador Camacho and SGH2 CEO Dr. Robert T. Do, a biophysicist, and physician, the city of Lancaster will host and co-own the green hydrogen production facility.

“The world needs some good news right now, and we have it. Affordable, mass-produced, reliable green hydrogen is the missing link needed to decarbonise the world,” said Do.

Other projects in Lancaster include a gasification plant and Hitachi Zosen Inova’s $100m anaerobic digestion plant which generates renewable natural gas (RNG) from organic waste for conversion to clean hydrogen.

Hydrogen has been gaining traction around the world as governments commit to clean energy.

Lancaster is committed to hydrogen, attracting investors, building state-of-the-art facilities, and supporting new companies with advanced permitting, city procurement, infrastructure support, fleet building, and consumer education.

“Hydrogen is the future and we invite other cities to join us on the path to decarbonisation as a way to tackle Climate Change,” said Parris.

Vision and high-level commitment by the Mayor, along with the development of a comprehensive plan to achieve a transition to hydrogen, has led to approval and buy-in from City Council and the public leading to success in attracting hydrogen investment.

The focus now is on broadening outreach to include education, research and development, and targeted international cooperation with like-minded cities.

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