Environment / Featured / Press Release

Southern Company takes foundational leadership role in hydrogen R&D effort to achieve net-zero goals

HyBlendTM initiative will work to overcome technical challenges to blending hydrogen in natural gas infrastructure

ATLANTA – Feb. 11, 2021 – Southern Company and its Southern Company Gas subsidiary have helped to start a new research and development (R&D) initiative, known as HyBlendTM, to address the technical barriers to blending hydrogen in natural gas infrastructure and study life-cycle emissions of hydrogen blends. As the leading utility sponsor, Southern Company Gas will spearhead the initiative. The HyBlendTM project will utilize expertise in Southern Company’s industry-leading R&D organization, along with industry partners, research consortia, academia and national laboratories, and encompass more than $15 million in hydrogen research.

“Natural gas is a critical partner in the growth of renewables as we foresee numerous opportunities to leverage our existing infrastructure to support clean energy, such as hydrogen,” said Dr. Mark S. Berry, vice president of R&D at Southern Company. “Emerging technologies such as hydrogen will be key as we work to achieve our enterprise-wide goal of net-zero carbon emissions by 2050.”

Introducing hydrogen into existing natural gas infrastructure has national and regional benefits for energy storage, resiliency and emissions reductions. Hydrogen can be produced by splitting water molecules with renewable, nuclear or other sources of energy. This hydrogen could be injected into natural gas infrastructure, and the blend of hydrogen and natural gas can then be transported to end users of the fuel.

“We are uniquely positioned to develop the technology and infrastructure needed to produce and distribute hydrogen into our system.”

–Zachary Lowe, director at Southern Company Gas

“Blending hydrogen into existing natural gas infrastructure enables us to further understand the infrastructure’s capabilities, which is essential for achieving carbon reduction goals.”

This two-year project was selected by the U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) Hydrogen and Fuel Cell Technologies Office in the Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy through the H2@Scale 2020 CRADA Call.

The HyBlendTM team is comprised of six DOE national laboratories ― National Renewable Energy Laboratory, Sandia National Laboratories (SNL), Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (PNNL), Oak Ridge National Laboratory, Argonne National Laboratory, and the National Energy Technology Laboratory ― and more than 20 participants from industry and academia.

“We’re working with industry to answer their high-priority research questions,” said Michael Peters, HyBlendTM project engineer at National Renewable Energy Laboratory. “First, are pipelines compatible with hydrogen? Second, what are the costs and environmental impacts? And finally, how will hydrogen blends affect appliances and other equipment in buildings?”

The areas of research include studying life-cycle emissions of hydrogen blends and techno-economic analysis of the costs and opportunities of hydrogen production. The project will leverage DOE’s Hydrogen and Fuel Cell Technologies Office’s Hydrogen Materials Compatibility Consortium, led by SNL and PNNL, which is an internationally recognized framework for the study of hydrogen–materials compatibility.

Southern Company is committed to collaborating with industry partners to advance global, economy-wide carbon reduction. The company’s participation in HyBlendTM is one of several R&D initiatives underway to investigate hydrogen’s potential. Other efforts include serving as an anchor sponsor for the Low-Carbon Resources Initiative and investigating the compatibility of hydrogen with Southern Company Gas subsidiary Atlanta Gas Light’s existing infrastructure, in collaboration with four national laboratories. In addition, Southern Company is assessing metering and regulating infrastructure’s hydrogen compatibility with the Electric Power Research Institute. These research projects contribute to Southern Company Gas’ effort to help deliver a clean, safe, reliable and affordable energy future for its customers and communities.

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About Southern Company
Southern Company (NYSE: SO) is a leading energy company serving 9 million customers through its subsidiaries. The company provides clean, safe, reliable and affordable energy through electric operating companies in three states, natural gas distribution companies in four states, a competitive generation company serving wholesale customers across America, a leading distributed energy infrastructure company, a fiber optics network and telecommunications services. Southern Company brands are known for excellent customer service, high reliability and affordable prices below the national average. For more than a century, we have been building the future of energy and developing the full portfolio of energy resources, including carbon-free nuclear, advanced carbon capture technologies, natural gas, renewables, energy efficiency and storage technology. Through an industry-leading commitment to innovation and a low-carbon future, Southern Company and its subsidiaries develop the customized energy solutions our customers and communities require to drive growth and prosperity. Our uncompromising values ensure we put the needs of those we serve at the center of everything we do and govern our business to the benefit of our world. Our corporate culture and hiring practices have been recognized nationally by the U.S. Department of Defense, G.I. Jobs magazine, DiversityInc, Black Enterprise, Fortune’s “World’s Most Admired Companies” list, Forbes and the Women’s Choice Award. To learn more, visit www.southerncompany.com.

About Southern Company Gas
Southern Company Gas is a wholly owned subsidiary of Atlanta-based Southern Company (NYSE:SO), America’s premier energy company. Southern Company Gas serves approximately 4.2 million natural gas utility customers through its regulated distribution companies in four states with approximately 700,000 retail customers through its companies that market natural gas. Other nonutility businesses include investments in interstate pipelines, asset management for natural gas wholesale customers and ownership and operation of natural gas storage facilities. For more information, visit southerncompanygas.com.

Cautionary Note Regarding Forward-Looking Statements
Certain information contained in this release is forward-looking information based on current expectations and plans that involve risks and uncertainties. Forward-looking information includes, among other things, statements concerning achievement of emissions reduction goals and potential benefits of R&D efforts. Southern Company cautions that there are certain factors that can cause actual results to differ materially from the forward-looking information that has been provided. The reader is cautioned not to put undue reliance on this forward-looking information, which is not a guarantee of future performance and is subject to a number of uncertainties and other factors, many of which are outside the control of Southern Company; accordingly, there can be no assurance that such suggested results will be realized. The following factors, in addition to those discussed in Southern Company’s Annual Report on Form 10-K for the year ended December 31, 2019, Quarterly Reports on Form 10-Q for the quarters ended March 31, 2020, June 30, 2020 and September 30, 2020 and subsequent securities filings, could cause actual results to differ materially from management expectations as suggested by such forward-looking information: the impact of recent and future federal and state regulatory changes, as well as changes in application of existing laws and regulations; available sources and costs of natural gas and other fuels; the ability to control costs and avoid cost and schedule overruns during the development, construction, and operation of facilities or other projects; the ability to construct facilities in accordance with the requirements of permits and licenses, to satisfy any environmental performance standards and the requirements of tax credits and other incentives, and to integrate facilities into the Southern Company system upon completion of construction; advances in technology; performance of counterparties under ongoing renewable energy partnerships and development agreements; state and federal rate regulations and the impact of pending and future rate cases and negotiations; and the ability to successfully operate the electric utilities’ generating, transmission, and distribution facilities and Southern Company Gas’ natural gas distribution and storage facilities and the successful performance of necessary corporate functions. Southern Company expressly disclaims any obligation to update any forward‐looking information.

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