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The Hydrogen Economy: Opportunities, Costs, Barriers, and R&D Needs
FIGURE 5-1 Unit cost estimates (cost per kilogram of hydrogen) for the “current technologies” state of development for 10 hydrogen supply technologies. Evaluation of a current technology case for nuclear thermal reforming of water is not included because no such technology exists at the present time. See Table 5-2 and discussion in text. NOTE: GEA = gasoline efficiency adjusted.
operating at full capacity. Each central station plant could provide enough hydrogen to fuel about 2 million vehicles. Thus, until there were several million vehicles operated within the service territory of a central station plant, these plants would operate at less than full capacity, and the average costs would exceed those estimated here.
Figure 5-1 also shows that with current technologies, the costs of generating hydrogen with any of the distributed technologies or the midsize biomass technologies would greatly exceed the gasoline costs.
The cost of hydrogen distribution and dispensing is important in assessing the overall economics of hydrogen production. Figure 5-1 shows that for the central station natural gas and coal technologies, the production cost is likely to be only one-half of the total cost of hydrogen; the cost of distribution plus dispensing is roughly as large as the production cost. Therefore, any estimation of the costs of supplying hydrogen must include the costs of distribution and dispensing or else risk sharply underestimating total supply costs.
Figure 5-1 also shows that CO2 disposal costs of $10 per tonne of CO2, and the carbon imputed cost of $50 per tonne of carbon (C), have very little impact on the comparative cost across technology options.
Figure 5-2 provides detail underlying the cost estimates. It includes each of the same technologies but disaggregates the production cost for central station and midsize technologies into five components: (1) capital charges, (2) feedstocks, (3) electricity, (4) nonfuel operation and maintenance, and (5) fixed costs. The costs of dispensing, distribution, CO2 disposal, and the imputed cost of carbon are not further disaggregated here, but their disaggregation is shown in Appendix E. For distributed technologies, the total cost is disaggregated to the same five components listed above.
Figure 5-2 shows that for the central station plants, feedstock costs play major roles in natural gas technologies, while capital costs are a very significant percentage in coal technologies. For biomass technologies, both feedstock and capital costs are high, resulting in hydrogen costs greater than $7.00/kg. Figure 5-2 shows that for the midsize and the distributed technologies, with the exception of distributed natural gas technologies, the capital costs alone exceed $2.00/kg. To calculate this capital cost in this analysis, the committee used a levelized annual capital cost equal to 15.9 percent of the capital investment cost for central station and midsize plants and equal to 14.0 percent of the capital investment cost for distributed generation.10 Central station and midsize plants were assumed to have a 2.5-year construction time, while distributed plants were assumed to have
These capital cost factors were based on an assumption that each technology faces an 11 percent nominal interest rate, with 2 percent inflation in the economy, a marginal tax rate of 33 percent, a 10-year tax life, and a 20-year project life.