Hydrogen Fueled Vehicles Could be Affordable Mid 2020s, Study Says

The California Energy Commission released a UC Irvine roadmap for the buildout and deployment of renewable hydrogen production plants in California to support policy decisions and inform stakeholders. The conclusion is that, with appropriate policy support, the renewable hydrogen sector can reach self-sustainability (price point at parity with conventional fuel on a fuel-economy adjusted basis) by the mid- to late 2020s.

The Roadmap reveals key aspects of renewable hydrogen production and delivery chain which are expected to help minimize cost, minimize adverse environmental impacts, capture positive and negative learnings from early projects, guide process improvements, and contribute policy improvements. Further it gathered data on “as-built” costs to provide a fact base to support investment analysis by value chain participants and incentive program development by state agencies. Maps of potential need for renewable hydrogen fuel in various future scenarios show growth out from major urban centers.

“The analysis projects plant gate-to-dispenser costs to decline from around $16 per kilogram (excluding subsidies and credits) at present to a midpoint estimate of $6 by 2025, declining to below $5 by 2050 with a low-end estimate of $4 per kilogram.”

“The biggest factor in the cost decline is increased station utilization (fuel dispenses as a fraction of full capacity) with economies of scale and technology progress also contributing.”

This study follows other studies, reports and white papers on hydrogen and fuel cell electric vehicles that have come out over the past year.

In particular, The Hydrogen Council’s Report, Path to Hydrogen Competitiveness: A Cost Perspective, shows that the cost of hydrogen solutions will fall sharply within the next decade, sooner than previously expected. As scale up of hydrogen production, distribution, as well as of equipment and component manufacturing continues, cost is projected to decrease by up to 50% by 2030 for a wide range of applications, making hydrogen competitive with other low-carbon alternatives and, in some cases, even conventional options.