Richmond, VA-based Dominion Energy Inc. is aiming to blend hydrogen into its natural gas systems with an investment in multiple pilot projects.

The utility, which serves nearly seven million customers in 16 different states, said the pilots would explore how hydrogen-blended natural gas works in pipelines and appliances. 

“Hydrogen is a huge innovation in clean energy,” said Dominion Chief Innovation Officer Mark Webb. “It’s clean energy for homes and businesses and also clean fuel for vehicles and manufacturing plants. Few other energy sources have the potential to do so much good, so broadly across the economy.”

The company’s first hydrogen project has begun at its Training Academy in Salt Lake City. The project consists of blending 5% hydrogen into a test system to learn more about the molecule’s ability to run in real-life scenarios. If tests prove successful, the company plans to blend hydrogen into its Utah system that serves over 1 million natural gas utility consumers. The company is also planning to run more pilot tests in North Carolina. 

Dominion’s announcement came prior to President Biden’s announcement on Thursday that the United States is targeting a 50-52% reduction in economy-wide greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions by 2030 compared to 2005 levels. Under Biden’s separate “Build Back Better” agenda, the United States must aim for a carbon-dioxide emissions-free electric power sector by 2035, as well as a carbon-neutral economy by 2050. 

With its commitment to net-zero GHG emissions by 2050, Dominion plans to undertake the hydrogen projects while acting as the lead sponsor for the Low Carbon Resources Initiative, a five-year, $100 million research and development (R&D) project from the Electric Power Research Institute Inc. and Gas Technology Institute. The R&D projects consist of developing alternatives to traditional natural gas.