Sustainability Spotlight: Victor Cervantes Valvidieso, SDG&E Hydrogen Team

Sustainability Spotlight: Victor Cervantes Valdivieso, SDG&E Hydrogen Team

Our company releases an updated Sustainability Report each year, reflecting our environmental goals and outlining many exciting projects to lead San Diego and Southern California into a sustainable future. Lucky for us, we have folks like Victor Cervantes Valdivieso, business development officer, hydrogen team, to help lead the charge.  

While Cervantes Valdivieso is relatively new to our company, his extensive international experience allows us to take new, innovative approaches to hydrogen energy. So, let's get to learn more about him! 

Tell us about yourself and your role at our company. 

I joined the company a few weeks ago to lead our business development efforts in hydrogen. So, I am very excited about this challenge and grateful for being part of a small, highly talented team that has the great privilege and responsibility to define and implement our strategy in this nascent and fascinating sector. 

I have been working in clean energy for the last 15 years. In my previous role, I led IEnova’s (our Mexican affiliate) business development team for the power sector. In that endeavor, my team and I managed to position IEnova as one of the leading players in the Mexican clean energy sector by structuring from the ground up the investment in six utility-scale projects (five solar, one wind) that sum up to 650 MW and represent an investment of more than $700 million. 

On the personal side, my wife (Marianne), daughter (Nerea), and I moved from Mexico City to San Diego a couple of months ago. I am Mexican, but I have lived a significant amount of my adult life abroad (in Ecuador, Belgium, Switzerland, Italy, and Spain). I enjoy sports (triathlon, open water swimming, biking), cooking (my paellas are legendary (:), traveling, scuba diving, and spending time with my beautiful family.  

Victor Cervantes and family

How do you see innovations in hydrogen impacting the energy sector?  

Innovations in hydrogen, particularly those enabling cost reductions in the production of green hydrogen (produced from renewable energy and water via electrolysis), will be essential for the energy sector. 

Today, green hydrogen is significantly more expensive than gray hydrogen (produced from natural gas) and other fossil fuels. Nevertheless, it is expected to become increasingly cost-competitive in the following years, mainly due to technological improvements, economies of scale, and the constant reduction of renewable energy prices.  

Reducing the price gap between green hydrogen and fossil fuels is critical for the energy industry since it will enable the widespread adoption of clean molecules as another tool to combat climate change. 

How will hydrogen help shape the future of sustainable energy? What are some ways we are leading in this work? 

In a global context that requires increasingly aggressive emission reduction targets, some hard-to-electrify sectors (like cement and steel production or heavy-duty transportation) will require clean fuels to achieve carbon neutrality. 

Likewise, seasonal storage will be necessary for the power sector to achieve a generation mix exclusively based on renewable energy and maintain grid reliability. In both cases, low carbon-intensity hydrogen is ideally positioned to become a perfect complement to electrification in our challenging road to carbon neutrality. 

We are leading in this work by implementing innovative projects (like our hydrogen projects planned at Palomar Energy Center and the Borrego Springs Microgrid, working closely with all relevant stakeholders to shape the future hydrogen regulatory framework, and exploring new exciting projects that will play a crucial role in creating the hydrogen economy. 

Can you tell us more about our hydrogen projects at Palomar Energy Center and the Borrego Springs Microgrid?  

We are currently working on two fascinating projects led by our Advanced Clean Technologies team that will be critical to improving our technical capabilities in this nascent sector. 

At Palomar Energy Center, an “electrolyzer” and solar panels will be installed to produce electrolytic hydrogen onsite. This hydrogen will be blended with natural gas to produce electricity and used as a cooling gas in the combined cycle process. A hydrogen refueling station will also be installed to serve the first fuel cell vehicles in our fleet.  

At the Borrego Springs Microgrid, a new project will showcase hydrogen as long-duration energy storage in the power sector. Similar to our project at  Palomar Energy Center, hydrogen will be produced by an electrolyzer when solar energy is abundant, and then compressed and stored. 

A fuel cell will also be installed to produce electricity with the stored hydrogen when required by the grid. The project will be integrated with the existing Borrego Springs Microgrid and thus will also contribute to strengthening the reliability of this remote desert community. 

Thank you, Victor, for leading the charge and the future of sustainability at our company. Keep up the great work!