Why is hydrogen fuel so expensive?April 29, 2023
• Hydrogen fuel is abundant, versatile, and can be used in a variety of applications.
• It has less energy per unit volume than fossil fuels, contributing to its higher price.
• Other factors include production method, proximity to the end user, and transportation costs.
• The price is falling as demand increases, but initial investments are still required for equipment replacement/transition and infrastructure implementation.
As appealing as H2 is for decarbonization, its price tag remains a barrier to transition for some.
Hydrogen fuel is among the most promising energy sources in the global transition away from fossil fuels. It is abundant, can be produced in many ways, and can be used in a broad spectrum of applications from home heating and personal transportation to heavy machinery and industry.
With all that said, many wonder why H2 remains comparatively expensive.
On its most basic level, hydrogen fuel contains less energy per unit volume than the fossil fuels it would be replacing. Therefore, according to the US Department of Energy (DoE), “transporting, storing, and delivering it to the point of end-use is more expensive on a per gasoline gallon equivalent basis.”
Of course, the final cost of H2 has to do with many different factors, ranging from where it is produced to the method of production and everything in between. Other issues that help to determine the final price tag of its use include the proximity of the end user to the production site.
After all, if the H2 is being made on-site at a refueling location, any costs associated with its transportation are eliminated.
The price of hydrogen fuel itself is falling, but its adoption requires initial investments.
As H2 production rates climb to suit rising demand, its price is falling. That said, the ultimate goal in using this form of energy as a part of decarbonization strategies worldwide involves producing it using methods that do not generate carbon emissions. After all, if the point of transitioning to H2 is to achieve carbon neutrality goals, producing it using methods that will still emit greenhouse gases is pointless.
Therefore, the largest expense expected to be associated with a transition to hydrogen fuel isn’t the H2 itself. That will likely to be cost competitive once it is produced at scale. In fact, many experts are indicating that it could end up being cheaper than the fossil fuels it is replacing.
Instead, the largest expenses are expected to be linked with the replacement or retrofitting of equipment that currently runs on fossil fuels, as well as the implementation of the infrastructure to produce H2 using renewable energy (known as green hydrogen), transport, store and distribute it.
“Building a new hydrogen pipeline network involves high initial capital costs, and hydrogen’s properties present unique challenges to pipeline materials and compressor design,” says the DoE website. “However, because hydrogen can be produced from a wide variety of resources, regional or even local hydrogen production can maximize use of local resources and minimize distribution challenges.”
A Look at today’s hydrogen fuel cost for cars
At the California hydrogen stations, a kilogram of hydrogen costs between $10 and $17, making it more expensive than gasoline. However, fuel cells are approximately 2.5 times more efficient than gasoline engines, providing users with better fuel efficiency. Additionally, most fuel cell car manufacturers offer three years’ worth of free fuel with a vehicle purchase. It costs around $80 to fill up a 37.5-gallon tank in the 2022 Toyota Mirai XLE sedan, which has an EPA-estimated driving range of up to 402 miles, and the 2022 Toyota Mirai Limited has a range of up to 357 miles. Not too shabby.
Hydrogen – its present cost composition outlined very clearly and comprehensively as to why ii is expensive per se vis-a-vis fossil fuels
Producing hydrogen at the fuel pump using a decentralized electrolyzer is quite a bit into the future. Electrolysis is becoming more efficient by scaling up production. Producing hydrogen by decarbonizing hydrocarbons is less expensive than electrolysis. Some of the hydrocarbon processing require carbon sequestration, however, one process in particular leaves the carbon underground at the well site, trapped in the mineral deposits. More great advances to come in improving H2 availability.
The reason hydrogen production costs are higher than gasoline is the lack of infrastructure geared to make production considerable less expense. For example, technological energy advances using nano rippled graphene are real and this product will make renewable energy options considerable less expensive. For example, won’t it be amazing add the electrical properties of nanorippled graphene as the base layer in Sadia Arabia’s amazing 35% efficient perovskite/silicon solar cell. Solar farms in deserts worldwide would increase their energy efficiency 15% or more. This alone could drop the cost of producing hydrogen well below its current energy cost by using these improved solar farms. Similar results could occur in other renewable energy methods as well. For example, using ocean water hydrogen electrolysers, home hydrogen generators, hydrogen fuel cells, seawater sodium-sulfur and lithium batteries, wind turbines, seawater filters and many other electrical products. Their lies the problem with not making a hydrogen energy transformation, depleting oil and natural gas will only become more costly not less. Best to develop future energy strategy with these facts in mind and secure energy independence as soon as possible.