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The Development of an Assessment Framework to Determine the Technical Hydrogen Production Potential from Wind and Solar Energy


Electrolytic hydrogen produced from wind and solar energy is considered a long-term option for multi-sectoral decarbonization. The study objective is to develop a framework for assessing country-level hydrogen technical potential from wind and solar energy. We apply locational suitability and zonal statistical analyses methods in a geographic information system-based environment to derive granular insights on non-captive technically exploitable hydrogen potential in high-resource locations. Seven setback factors were considered for locational suitability, and integrated with modules developed for evaluating the wind and solar resource penetration from open-source theoretical renewable resource geospatial data and electricity-to-hydrogen conversion analyses. The technique applied in this study would be a relevant contribution to determining national and regional-wide electrolytic hydrogen production potentials in other jurisdictions with requisite adjustments to data and technical constraints. The results from the case study country, Canada – a major hydrogen-producing country – show that the technical hydrogen potentials from wind and solar energy are approximately 1,897 and 448 million metric tonnes per year, respectively, at least 6.3 times greater than global hydrogen demand in 2019. When we integrated locational data on enabling infrastructure, we discovered that the lack of access to power transmission lines in low-population-density areas of the country significantly reduces the exploitable wind- and solar-based hydrogen potential by over 80% and 6%, respectively. The findings of this study show that in the absence of spatial data on infrastructural constraints, the exploitable hydrogen potential in a jurisdiction can be overestimated, leading to improper guidance for policy and decision-makers.

Funding source: The authors are grateful to the NSERC/ Cenovus/Alberta Innovates Associate Industrial Research Chair Program in Energy and Environmental Systems Engineering and the Cenovus Energy Endowed Chair in Environmental Engineering at the University of Alberta for financial support for this research. This research was also supported by funding from the Canada First Research Excellence Fund (CFREF) as part of the University of Alberta’s Future Energy Systems (FES) research initiative.
Related subjects: Production & Supply Chain
Countries: Canada

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