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Southern Company (SO) Begins Initiative to Reduce Emissions

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The Southern Company (SO - Free Report) and its wholly-owned subsidiary Southern Company Gas commenced a new research and development initiative in order to overcome the technical challenges of blending hydrogen in natural gas infrastructure and to explore the life-cycle emissions of hydrogen blends.

The initiative, referred to as the HyBlend project, is a cooperative venture of Southern Company Gas and industry partners, research consortia, academia and national laboratories. Notably, Southern Company Gas is one of the largest natural gas distribution companies in the United States and will lead the initiative.

The Hyblend project was selected by the Hydrogen and Fuel Cell Technologies Office of the United States Department of Energy (“DOE”) in the Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy. It comprises the exploration of life-cycle emissions of hydrogen blends and the evaluation of the technical and economic performance of costs and opportunities of hydrogen production. The project involves more than $15 million in hydrogen research, with a term of two years.

The insertion of hydrogen into the existing natural gas infrastructure would enhance power reserves, flexibility, and emissions reductions. Hydrogen is obtainable by the process of splitting water molecules with renewable, nuclear, or other energy sources, and will be inserted into the natural gas infrastructure. The mixture of hydrogen and natural gas will be transported to consumers of the fuel.

The utility mentioned that it established a group exceeding 20 members from the industry and academia to perform research activities. It involves six national laboratories overseen by the DOE, namely the National Renewable Energy Laboratory, Sandia National Laboratories, Pacific Northwest National Laboratory, Oak Ridge National Laboratory, Argonne National Laboratory, and the National Energy Technology Laboratory.

Notably, Southern Company believes that blending hydrogen into existing natural gas infrastructure will ensure better insights into infrastructural capabilities, which is necessary to achieve the utility’s target of net-zero emissions by 2050.

Company Profile & Price Performance

Headquartered in Atlanta, GA, Southern Company is one of the largest utility companies in the United States.

The utility’s shares have outperformed the industry in the past six months. Its stock has gained 11.8% compared with the industry’s 5.6% growth.



Zacks Rank & Stocks to Consider

The company currently carries a Zack Rank #3 (Hold).

Some better-ranked players in the utility space are ONEOK, Inc (OKE - Free Report) , currently sporting a Zacks Rank #1 (Strong Buy), and Brooge Energy Limited (BROG - Free Report) and National Grid Transco, PLC (NGG - Free Report) , eachcarrying a Zacks Rank #2 (Buy). You can see the complete list of today’s Zacks #1 Rank stocks here.

ONEOK’s earnings for 2021 are expected to surge 114.4% year over year.

Brooge Energy’s earnings for 2021 are anticipated to increase 8.8% year over year.

National Grid’s earnings for 2021 are expected to rise 10.9% year over year.

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