BOX 6.1

Sensitivity of Breakeven Analysis Results to Changes in Assumptions

The results of an analysis of the costs and timing of a hydrogen transition depend on many assumptions and inputs and are sensitive to changes in four important input parameters:

  1. The fuel economy of an HFCV compared to a reference gasoline vehicle;

  2. The incremental cost of an H2FCV compared to a gasoline reference vehicle;

  3. The cost of hydrogen; and

  4. The cost of gasoline (dollars per gallon).

The values of these parameters for Case 1 (Hydrogen Success) are shown in Table 6.1.1. Also shown are potential high and low values for each parameter. Each parameter is varied over this range.

Three key metrics that describe a hydrogen transition are:

  1. The “breakeven year”;

  2. The “breakeven cost” (e.g., cumulative cash flow to get to the breakeven year); and

  3. The total capital cost (the incremental cost for HFCVs + the infrastructure cost) to get to the breakeven year.

TABLE 6.1.1 Range Over Which Parameter Values Can Vary for Case 1


Low Value

Case 1 Value

High Value

Fuel economy of HFCV versus fuel economy of efficient gasoline car




Incremental cost of HFCV compared to reference gasoline vehicle


(FC system = $50/kW; H2 storage = $2/kWh)


(FC system = $50/kW; H2 storage = $10/kWh)


(FC system = $62/kW; H2 storage = $18/kWh)

Incremental cost of H2 compared to Case 1 long-term cost




Price of oil

0.5 × high-price case (oil at $40-$60/bbl in 2012-2030)

Oil price from AEO 2008 high-price case (oil at $80-$120/bbl in transition period 2012-2030)

1.3 × high price case (oil at $105-$160/bbl in 2030)

NOTE: bbl = barrel; FC = fuel cell.

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