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Feasibility of Green Hydrogen-Based Synthetic Fuel as a Carbon Utilization Option: An Economic Analysis


Singapore has committed to achieving net zero emissions by 2050, which requires the pursuit of multiple decarbonization pathways. CO2 utilization methods such as fuel production may provide a fast interim solution for carbon abatement. This paper evaluates the feasibility of green hydrogen-based synthetic fuel (synfuel) production as a method for utilizing captured CO2. We consider several scenarios: a baseline scenario with no changes, local production of synfuel with hydrogen imports, and overseas production of synfuel with CO2 exports. This paper aims to determine a CO2 price for synfuel production, evaluate the economic viability of local versus overseas production, and investigate the effect of different cost parameters on economic viability. Using the current literature, we estimate the associated production and transport costs under each scenario. We introduce a CO2 utilization price (CUP) that estimates the price of utilizing captured CO2 to produce synfuel, and an adjusted CO2 utilization price (CCUP) that takes into account the avoided emissions from crude oil-based fuel production. We find that overseas production is more economically viable compared to local production, with the best case CCUP bounds giving a range of 142–148 $/tCO2 in 2050 if CO2 transport and fuel shipping costs are low. This is primarily due to the high cost of hydrogen feedstock, especially the transport cost, which can offset the combined costs of CO2 transport and fuel shipping. In general, we find that any increase in the hydrogen feedstock cost can significantly affect the CCUP for local production. Sensitivity analysis reveals that hydrogen transport cost has a significant impact on the viability of local production and if this cost is reduced significantly, local production can be cheaper than overseas production. The same is true if the economies of scale for local production is significantly better than overseas production. A significantly lower carbon capture cost can also the reduce the CCUP significantly.

Funding source: This research was funded by the National Research Foundation (NRF).
Related subjects: Applications & Pathways
Countries: Singapore

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