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Paths to Low-cost Hydrogen Energy at a Scale for Transportation Applications in the USA and China via Liquid-hydrogen Distribution Networks


The cost of delivered H2 using the liquid-distribution pathway will approach $4.3–8.0/kg in the USA and 26–52 RMB/kg in China by around 2030, assuming large-scale adoption. Historically, hydrogen as an industrial gas and a chemical feedstock has enjoyed a long and successful history. However, it has been slow to take off as an energy carrier for transportation, despite its benefits in energy diversity, security and environmental stewardship. A key reason for this lack of progress is that the cost is currently too high to displace petroleum-based fuels. This paper reviews the prospects for hydrogen as an energy carrier for transportation, clarifies the current drivers for cost in the USA and China, and shows the potential for a liquid-hydrogen supply chain to reduce the costs of delivered H2. Technical and economic trade-offs between individual steps in the supply chain (viz. production, transportation, refuelling) are examined and used to show that liquid-H2 (LH2) distribution approaches offer a path to reducing the delivery cost of H2 to the point at which it could be competitive with gasoline and diesel fuel.

Funding source: China Energy Investment Corporation
Related subjects: Policy & Socio-Economics

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