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Cost-Economic Analysis of Hydrogen for China’s Fuel Cell Transportation Field


China has become a major market for hydrogen used in fuel cells in the transportation field. It is key to control the cost of hydrogen to open up the Chinese market. The development status and trends of China’s hydrogen fuel industry chain were researched. A hydrogen energy cost model was established in this paper from five aspects: raw material cost, fixed cost of production, hydrogen purification cost, carbon trading cost, and transportation cost. The economic analysis of hydrogen was applied to hydrogen transported in the form of high-pressure hydrogen gas or cryogenic liquid hydrogen and produced by natural gas, coal, and electrolysis of water. It was found that the cost of hydrogen from natural gas and coal is currently lower, while it is greatly affected by the hydrogen purification cost and the carbon trading price. Considering the impact of future production technologies, raw material costs, and rising requirements for sustainable energy development on the hydrogen energy cost, it is recommended to use renewable energy curtailment as a source of electricity and multi-stack system electrolyzers as large-scale electrolysis equipment, in combination with cryogenic liquid hydrogen transportation or on-site hydrogen production. Furthermore, participation in electricity market-oriented transactions, cross-regional transactions, and carbon trading can reduce the cost of hydrogen. These approaches represent the optimal method for obtaining inexpensive hydrogen.

Funding source: This research work was supported by the National Key R&D Program of China (2018YFE0106700)
Related subjects: Policy & Socio-Economics

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