Estimation of the Levelized Cost of Nuclear Hydrogen Production from Light Water Reactors in the United States


In June 2021, the United States (US) Department of Energy (DOE) hosted the first-ever Hydrogen Shot Summit, which lasted for two days. More than 3000 stockholders around the world were convened at the summit to discuss how low-cost clean hydrogen production would be a huge step towards solving climate change. Hydrogen is a dynamic fuel that can be used across all industrial sectors to lower the carbon intensity. By 2030, the summit hopes to have developed a means to reduce the current cost of clean hydrogen by 80%; i.e., to USD 1 per kilogram. Because of the importance of clean hydrogen towards carbon neutrality, the overall DOE budget for Fiscal Year 2021 is USD 35.4 billion and the total budget for DOE hydrogen activities in Fiscal Year 2021 is USD 285 million, representing 0.81% of the total DOE budget for 2021. The DOE hydrogen budget of 2021 is estimated to increase to USD 400 million in Fiscal Year 2022. The global hydrogen market is growing, and the US is playing an active role in ensuring its growth. Depending on the electricity source used, the electrolysis of hydrogen can have no greenhouse gas emissions. When assessing the advantages and economic viability of hydrogen production by electrolysis, it is important to take into account the source of the necessary electricity as well as emissions resulting from electricity generation. In this study, to evaluate the levelized cost of nuclear hydrogen production, the International Atomic Energy Agency Hydrogen Economic Evaluation Program is used to model four types of LWRs: Exelon’s Nine Mile Point Nuclear Power Plant (NPP) in New York; Palo Verde NPP in Arizona; Davis-Besse NPP in Ohio; and Prairie Island NPP in Minnesota. Each of these LWRs has a different method of hydrogen production. The results show that the total cost of hydrogen production for Exelon’s Nine Mile Point NPP, Palo Verde NPP, Davis-Besse NPP, and Prairie Island NPP was 4.85 ± 0.66, 4.77 ± 1.36, 3.09 ± 1.19, and 0.69 ± 0.03 USD/kg, respectively. These findings show that, among the nuclear reactors, the cost of nuclear hydrogen production using Exelon’s Nine Mile Point NPP reactor is the highest, whereas the cost of nuclear hydrogen production using the Prairie Island NPP reactor is the lowest.

Funding source: This research was supported by the Nuclear Safety Research Program through the Korea Foundation of Nuclear Safety (KoFONS) using the financial resources granted by the Nuclear Safety and Security Commission (NSSC) of the Republic of Korea (No. 2003015). This research was also supported by the 2022 Research Fund of the KEPCO International Nuclear Graduate School (KINGS), the Republic of Korea.
Related subjects: Policy & Socio-Economics
Countries: Korea, Republic of

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