One of these new partnerships between Suburban Propane and Independence Hydrogen is aiming to take the hydrogen sector by storm and create a viable supply chain for the clean energy carrier.

Suburban Propane recently extended its reach into the hydrogen market with the company unveiling a new 25% equity stake in Independence Hydrogen to localise hydrogen production and distribution.

The $30m investment will support the establishment of a new subsidiary, Suburban Renewable Energy, with the company continuing to support the mission of Independence Hydrogen and accelerate the adoption of the clean energy carrier.

As part of the agreement, propane could well be utilised to create an innovative method for transporting hydrogen in a cost-effective manner.

To learn more about this development, H2 View spoke with Nandini Sankara, a spokesperson for Suburban Propane.

H2 View (H2V): Thanks for giving H2 View your time. To start, could you please tell me a little bit about Suburban Propane and how it fits into the hydrogen space?

Nandini Sankara (NS): It is my pleasure and it is great to be talking with you about this exciting space. Suburban Propane Partners, L.P. (“Suburban Propane”) is a publicly traded master limited partnership listed on the New York Stock Exchange under the ticker symbol SPH.

Headquartered in Whippany, New Jersey, Suburban Propane has been in the customer service business since 1928 and is a nationwide distributor of traditional and renewable energy products and services.

Suburban Propane serves the energy needs of approximately one million residential, commercial, governmental, industrial, and agricultural customers through more than 700 locations across 42 states.

We recently announced the creation of a new subsidiary, Suburban Renewable Energy, LLC, (“Suburban Renewables”) as part of our ongoing efforts to bring more renewable energy into our footprint.

We are committed to investing in, and fostering, innovative solutions to support the economy-wide transition to a sustainable energy future through advancing the clean air and low carbon benefits of: traditional and renewable propane; renewable dimethyl ether (“rDME”); and low carbon intensity (“CI”) blends of rDME, r-propane and traditional propane. Most recently, we have added hydrogen to that list of low CI energy offerings.

We believe hydrogen will play a critical role in decarbonising the material handling, transportation and heavy industry sectors, and as a means to provide electric grid resiliency as backup power and long duration storage to enable the deployment of additional intermittent renewable energy sources like wind and solar.

H2V: Suburban Propane recently announced a 25% equity stake in Independence Hydrogen. Could you tell me a bit about his new agreement? What does the company hope to achieve through this?

NS: In March, Suburban Propane purchased a 25% equity stake in Independence Hydrogen, Inc., a veteran-owned and operated, producer and distributor of low CI hydrogen solutions, for $30m. Independence Hydrogen is developing a gaseous hydrogen production, storage and distribution ecosystem to deliver locally produced, high purity hydrogen to local markets, with an initial focus on material handling and backup power applications.

Independence Hydrogen’s mission is to make communities cleaner, safer, and more energy resilient by providing access to affordable, low CI hydrogen. The team of combat-experienced military veterans is committed to the highest standards for safety, integrity and service to others.

Independence Hydrogen’s model is a new approach to hydrogen and has many environmental and financial advantages over the existing hydrogen landscape.

Additionally, the opportunity to invest in a veteran lead organisation is in keeping with Suburban’s long-standing commitment to supporting the veterans’ community. Suburban Propane’s logistics expertise, unwavering focus on safety and localised service model are perfectly situated to support the adoption of hydrogen solutions in the marketplace and accelerate the growth of Independence Hydrogen.

H2V: Suburban Propane also holds a stake in Oberon Fuels, creators of an innovative rDME system. Why could this technology be so important for the hydrogen market? What can it help achieve?

NS: Oberon and Suburban Propane are the first in the world to bring commercially available Propane+rDME to market. Our initial efforts with Oberon are focused on using the low CI rDME in the transportation sector; however, in the long term rDME is an outstanding hydrogen carrier and will play a role in both the propane and hydrogen spaces.

Because rDME can be transported and stored in existing propane infrastructure there is an opportunity to leverage that existing infrastructure and workforce to move rDME to onsite hydrogen reformers.

H2V: Is there potential for this technology to be used globally or will it strictly be used to enhance the North American hydrogen economy?

NS: The initial focus is on the densely populated north-eastern portion of the United States. However, the potential to replicate the Independence Hydrogen model of local production and local consumption across North America, and potentially around the world, can bring significant environmental benefits to currently underserved and developing hydrogen markets.

H2V: What other standout hydrogen technologies/developments are Suburban a part of and why could they be so important for the development of the technology?

NS: Our current work in hydrogen is focused on scaling the Independence Hydrogen model and using rDME and blends of rDME and propane as hydrogen carriers.

H2V: Is there anything further that our audience should know about Suburban Propane?

NS: Suburban Propane is proud of our more than 90-year legacy of safely and reliably delivering energy to satisfied customers across the United States.

We will continue to deliver the highest level of customers service as we grow our renewable energy product offerings that will set the business up for long-term success throughout the energy transition and help ensure Suburban Propane can set a path for the next 90 years.