TABLE 6.4 Assumed Capital Costs for Hydrogen Production Systems


Plant Size (tonne/d)

FUTURE TECH H2A 2015 Capital Cost (dollars/kg per day)

Central natural gas (SMR) (production plant only)







Central coal (production plant only)







Central biomass (production plant only)







On-site SMR (station)


3,970 ($0.4 million per station)


1,811 ($0.9 million per station)


1,452 ($2.2 million per station)

On-site electrolysis (station)


4,325 ($0.4 million per station)


2,050 ($1.0 million per station)


1,673 ($2.5 million per station)

The SSCHISM infrastructure model compares the different possible supply options in Table 6.2 for 73 different U.S. cities, finding the lowest-cost supply in each city at a specified market penetration. The best choice depends on the level of demand, the city size and demand density, and local energy and feedstock prices. For the first 5-10 years, on-site SMRs dominate the hydrogen supply. After that time, central production plants begin to be built in large cities, with truck or pipeline delivery, although on-site SMRs are assumed to persist in smaller cities. All coal hydrogen plants are assumed to have carbon capture and sequestration (CCS). Biomass hydrogen plants are small in size (30-200 tonnes per day) to match the scale of regional biomass supply. This compares to 250-1,200 tonnes per day for coal plants. The analysis uses a regional biomass supply curve (that specifies the amount of biomass available at a certain amount per tonne) (Perlack et al., 2005) to reflect biomass feedstock cost increases as demand grows.

Figure 6.10 shows the capital costs for infrastructure up to 2030. On-site SMRs dominate, with central production and pipeline delivery beginning after about 2027, when the first central production systems using biomass and coal are built. These are accompanied by pipeline delivery systems and stations. Biomass plants appear slightly earlier than coal hydrogen plants, and more of them are built because they are smaller in size. Later, central production dominates in large cities, although on-site reformers persist in other areas (Figure 6.11).

In terms of the amount of hydrogen produced, coal-based hydrogen is the dominant source, with significant

FIGURE 6.10 Early infrastructure capital costs for Case 1.

FIGURE 6.11 Capital costs for hydrogen infrastructure.

FIGURE 6.12 Estimated average cost of delivered hydrogen in the United States and the assumed gasoline price.

contributions from biomass hydrogen as well. However, it is important to note that the delivered costs of hydrogen from coal, biomass, and natural gas central plants are quite close (within $0.50/kg). Thus, the choice of a feedstock may be determined by other factors, such as state policies favoring renewables. The long-term capital cost for infrastructure is roughly 25 percent on-site reformer stations, 25 percent central production plants (most hydrogen comes from coal, with some from biomass), 25 percent delivery systems (pipelines predominate), and 25 percent refueling stations with truck or pipeline delivery. The U.S. average cost of delivered hydrogen is shown in Figure 6.12.

The total infrastructure capital cost is about $2,000 per car served by the system. The total capital costs to build a

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