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A Techno-Economic Assessment of Sustainable Large Scale Hydrogen Production from Renewable and Non-Renewable Sources Open Access


Other title
greenhouse gas
energy economics
wind energy
coal gasification
Steam methane reforming
Type of item
Degree grantor
University of Alberta
Author or creator
Supervisor and department
Amit, Kumar (Mechanical Engineering, University of Alberta)
Examining committee member and department
Marc, Secanell (Mechanical Engineering, University of Alberta)
Yongsheng, Ma (Mechanical Engineering, University of Alberta)
Rajender, Gupta (Chemical Engineering, University of Alberta)
Bala, Venkatesh (Electrical and Computer Engineering, Ryerson University)
Department of Mechanical Engineering
Engineering Management
Date accepted
Graduation date
2016-06:Fall 2016
Doctor of Philosophy
Degree level
In recent times, the imperative to mitigate greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions that emanate from a multitude of sectors in the global energy economy has achieved unprecedented and widespread consensus. Depending on the energy resource and method used to produce hydrogen, it offers a compelling alternative to GHG intensive fossil-fuel based energy carriers. In this thesis, a techno-economic assessment of large scale, sustainable, hydrogen production pathways is addressed through the development of integrated techno-economic models. The hydrogen produced from the aforementioned pathways is used to displace hydrogen derived from natural gas - steam methane reforming (SMR), which dominates hydrogen supply, particularly in the bitumen upgrading industry in Western Canada, and oil refining complexes around the globe. As such, there is a considerable demand for low-GHG hydrogen production pathways that are cost competitive with SMR. Hydrogen production from wind energy, hydropower, natural gas and coal were assessed in the work carried out. In the case of wind energy, a wind-hydrogen plant with energy storage was evaluated. The hydrogen production cost from this pathway ranged from $3.37 - $15.06/kg H2, depending on the electrolyser size and whether or not existing wind farm infrastructure is used. The optimal electrolyser-battery configuration for the plant consists of 81 units of a 3496 kW (760 Nm3/hr) electrolyser and 360 MWh (60 units) of battery capacity. Additionally, it was observed that for a particular electrolyser-battery configuration, the minimum hydrogen production cost occurs when their respective capacity factors are approximately equivalent. For the hydropower-hydrogen plant the hydrogen production cost ranged from $1.18 to $5.35/kg H2, depending on the electrolyser size and the use of existing hydropower assets. The optimal plant configuration consists of 90 units of a 3496 kW (760 Nm3/h) electrolyser. In the case of coal and natural gas, integrated techno-economic models for underground coal gasification (UCG) and SMR with or without carbon capture and sequestration (CCS), were developed. The competitiveness of UCG and SMR is highly sensitive to the natural gas price. Hydrogen production from UCG without CCS ($1.92/kg H2) is slightly less competitive relative to SMR ($1.87/kg H2). Hydrogen production from UCG-CCS ($2.28/kg H2 to $2.92/kg H2) is slightly more competitive relative to SMR-CCS ($2.31/kg H2 to $2.60/kg H2). Overall, for the techno-economic conditions considered, hydrogen production from hydropower proved to be the pathway that is most competitive with SMR in Western Canada.
This thesis is made available by the University of Alberta Libraries with permission of the copyright owner solely for the purpose of private, scholarly or scientific research. This thesis, or any portion thereof, may not otherwise be copied or reproduced without the written consent of the copyright owner, except to the extent permitted by Canadian copyright law.
Citation for previous publication
Olateju, B. and A. Kumar. Clean energy-based production of hydrogen: An energy carrier. Handbook of Clean Energy Systems; 2015. 1–30.Olateju, B., A. Kumar, M. Secanell. A techno-economic assessment of large scale wind hydrogen production with energy storage in Western Canada. International Journal of Hydrogen Energy, 2016. 41 (0): p. 8755-8776Olateju, B. and A. Kumar. Techno-economic assessment of hydrogen production from underground coal gasification (UCG) in Western Canada with carbon capture and sequestration (CCS) for upgrading bitumen from oil sands. Applied Energy, 2013. 111: p.428 – 440.Olateju, B. and A. Kumar. A techno-economic assessment of hydrogen production from hydropower in Western Canada for the upgrading of bitumen from oil sands. Energy, 2016 (in-review).

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