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Open Access Publications from the University of California

A Near-Term Economic Analysis of Hydrogen Fueling Stations


There is growing interest in hydrogen as a transportation fuel in California. Plans are underway to construct a �Hydrogen Highway� network of stations across the state to stimulate fuel cell vehicle deployment. One of the key challenges however in the planning and financing of this network is determining the costs of the stations. The purpose of this thesis is to examine the near-term costs of building stations and answer the fundamental question, �how much would new hydrogen stations cost now?� The costs for seven different station types are analyzed with respect to size, siting factors, and operating factors. The first chapter of the thesis reviews the existing body of knowledge on hydrogen station costs. In the second chapter, I present hydrogen station cost data in a database, the Compendium of Hydrogen Refueling Equipment Costs (CHREC), created to organize and analyze data collected from equipment suppliers, existing stations and literature. The third chapter of the report presents the Hydrogen Station Cost Model (HSCM), an engineering/economic model also created as part of this thesis, to analyze the cost of stations. In the final chapter of the report, the HSCM model is applied to the case of the proposed California Hydrogen Highway Network to indicate the costs of different hydrogen infrastructure options. Based on these cost analyses, I conclude the following:

* Existing hydrogen station cost analyses tend to under-estimate true station costs by assuming high production volume levels for equipment, neglecting station installation costs, and omitting important station operating costs. * Station utilization (i.e. capacity factor) has the most significant impact on hydrogen price. * Hydrogen fuel costs can be reduced by siting stations at strategic locations such as government-owned fleet yards and facilities that use hydrogen for industrial purposes. * Hydrogen fuel costs ($/kg) are higher at small stations (10-30 kg/day) that are burdened with high installation costs and low utilization of station infrastructure. * Energy stations that produce electricity for stationary uses and hydrogen for vehicles have the potential for low-cost hydrogen due to increased equipment utilization. Costs of energy stations are uncertain because few have been built. * The Hydrogen Station Cost Model is a flexible tool for analyzing hydrogen station costs for a variety of conditions and assumptions.

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