FIGURE 5-4 Cost details underlying estimates in Figure 5-3 for 11 future hydrogen supply technologies, including generation by dedicated nuclear plants. See Table 5-2 and discussion in text. NOTE: O&M = operation and maintenance; GEA = gasoline efficiency adjusted.

nologies and in wind turbines and photovoltaics will have small impact on the price of grid-delivered electricity.


In order to facilitate comparisons between costs of current technologies and those of possible future technologies, both sets of costs can be displayed in a single graph. Figures 5-5 through 5-8 provide such graphs, with technologies grouped by primary feedstock from which the hydrogen is generated.

Distributed Electrolysis

Figure 5-5 shows the various distributed electrolysis technologies. This graph shows that the committee conceives of large reductions in hydrogen costs with technology advances. Most of the reduction comes from reduced electrolysis capital costs. The reduced capital cost is primarily the result of the assumption that the costs of proton exchange membrane (PEM) electrolyzers should decline by almost 90 percent, with successful research and development that parallels the advances in PEM fuel cells. The cost of solar photovoltaic electricity also decreases by 50 percent, owing to significant efficiency and manufacturing cost enhancements.15 Wind electricity also decreases, but by a smaller amount owing to its advanced state of current development.

For wind-turbine-derived electricity, both production using grid-delivered electricity when wind turbines are not providing electricity (Dist WT-Gr Ele-C and Dist WT-Gr Ele-F) and production relying exclusively on wind-turbine-generated electricity (Dist WT Ele-C and Dist WT Ele-F) are included. Capital cost decreases by a larger percentage for electrolysis using wind turbines exclusively. This particularly large capital cost decrease occurs because, for this technology, the capacity of the electrolyzer is inversely proportional to the capacity factor of the wind turbines that supply the electricity. It is assumed that current wind turbines supply electricity 30 percent of the time and that the possible future wind turbines supply electricity 40 percent of the time owing to better technology for utilizing a wider variation in wind speeds. In practice, these figures would be very site-specific, with some sites having higher capacity and others


Photovoltaic costs, in the committee’s analysis, are for installed panels inclusive of structures to mount the solar panels themselves. A modular approach is expected to reduce the cost of such structures, although their contribution to the total system cost will continue to be significant owing to the size of the solar field that is required.

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