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Total Cost of Ownership Analysis of Fuel Cell Electric Bus with Different Hydrogen Supply Alternatives


In the transition to sustainable public transportation with zero-emission buses, hydrogen fuel cell electric buses have emerged as a promising alternative to traditional diesel buses. However, assessing their economic viability is crucial for widespread adoption. This study carries out a comprehensive examination, encompassing both sensitivity and probabilistic analyses, to assess the total cost of ownership (TCO) for the bus fleet and its corresponding infrastructure. It considers various hydrogen supply options, encompassing on-site electrolysis, on-site steam methane reforming, and off-site hydrogen procurement with both gaseous and liquid delivery methods. The analysis covers critical cost elements, encompassing bus acquisition costs, infrastructure capital expenses, and operational and maintenance costs for both buses and infrastructure. This paper conducted two distinct case studies: one involving a current small bus fleet of five buses and another focusing on a larger fleet set to launch in 2028. For the current small fleet, the off-site gray hydrogen purchase with a gaseous delivery option is the most cost-effective among hydrogen alternatives, but it still incurs a 26.97% higher TCO compared to diesel buses. However, in the case of the expanded 2028 fleet, the steam methane-reforming method without carbon capture emerges as the most likely option to attain the lowest TCO, with a high probability of 99.5%. Additionally, carbon emission costs were incorporated in response to the growing emphasis on environmental sustainability. The findings indicate that although diesel buses currently represent the most economical option in terms of TCO for the existing small fleet, steam methane reforming with carbon capture presents a 69.2% likelihood of being the most cost-effective solution, suggesting it is a strong candidate for cost efficiency for the expanded 2028 fleet. Notably, substantial investments are required to increase renewable energy integration in the power grid and to enhance electrolyzer efficiency. These improvements are essential to make the electrolyzer a more competitive alternative to steam methane reforming. Overall, the findings in this paper underscore the substantial impact of the hydrogen supply chain and carbon emission costs on the TCO of zero-emission buses.

Related subjects: Applications & Pathways
Countries: United States

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