An article recently published by prof. Proost of the University of Louvain details the key parameters for the breakthrough of hydrogen from renewables. And if you followed the news, a lot of these targets are already being met!
The main competitor to hydrogen from renewables (green hydrogen) is hydrogen from steam reforming of natural gas, which is called blue or grey hydrogen depending on whether CO₂ emissions are captured or not.
Grey hydrogen has long been the cheapest option and is today the source for 96% of all produced hydrogen in the world. Blue hydrogen is necessarily more expensive than grey hydrogen, since it features an extra process for emission capture and storage.
The indicative price for grey hydrogen is about 2 €/kg, whereas there is some uncertainty for blue hydrogen due to the relative lack of experience.
According to prof. Proost’s calculations, green hydrogen can be cheaper than grey if the following parameters are achieved:
- Electrolyser CAPEX below 500 €/kW
- Energy cost below 30 €/MWh
- Electrolyser plant scale of at least 3-4 MW
If you have been following the news, you will know that:
- Nikola Motors has acquired electrolysers for hydrogen refuelling stations in the size range of 8-10 MW…
- … with a declared cost just above 300 €/kW;
- Energy prices in Northern Europe have been oscillating between 30 and 40 €/MWh (yearly averages);
- Cost of solar PV and onshore wind energy is also stably in that bracket.
Note that these calculations do not include any CO₂ tax, nor the income that electrolyser plants can realise by stabilising the grid.