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On-site Hydrogen Refuelling Station Techno-economic Model for a Fleet of Fuel Cell Buses


Fuel cell electric buses (FCBs) have proven to be a technically viable solution for transportation, owing to various advantages, such as reliability, simplicity, better energy efficiency, and quietness of operation. However, largescale adoption of FCBs is hindered by the lack of extensive and structured infrastructure and the high cost of clean hydrogen. Many studies agree that one of the significant contributors to the lack of competitiveness of green hydrogen is the cost of electricity for its production, followed by transportation costs. On the one hand, to reduce the investment cost of the electrolyzer, high operating hours should be achieved; on the other, as the number of operating hours decreases, the impact of the electricity costs declines. This paper presents an innovative algorithm for a scalable hydrogen refuelling station (HRS) capable of successfully matching and identifying the most cost-efficient levelized cost of hydrogen (LCOH) produced via electrolysis and connected to the grid, based on the HRS components’ cost curves and the hourly average electricity price profile. The objective is to identify the least-cost range of LCOH by considering both the electric energy and the investment costs associated with a hydrogen demand given by different FCB sizes and electrolyzer rated powers. In addition, sensitivity analyses have been conducted to quantify the technology cost margins, and a cost comparison between the refuelling of an FCB fleet and the recharging infrastructure required for an equivalent fleet of Battery Electric Buse (BEB) has been performed. An LCOH of around 10.5 €/kg varying from 12 €/kg (2 FCB) to 10.2 €/kg (30 FCB) has been found for the best-optimized configurations. The final major conclusion of this paper is that FCB technology is currently not economically competitive. Still, a cost contraction of the electric energy price and the electrolyzer capital investment would lead to a 50% decrease in the LCOH. Furthermore, increasing renewable energies into the grid may shift the electricity cost curve, resulting in higher prices when the BEB recharging demand is more significant. This impact, in addition to the peak power load and longer recharging times, might contribute to bridging the gap with FCBs.

Funding source: This work was supported by the LIFE3H project (LIFE3H - LIFE20 ENV/IT/000575).
Related subjects: Applications & Pathways
Countries: Italy

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