Life cycle assessment of wind-based hydrogen production in Western Canada

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  • Hydrogen is a key input to industrial processes. In western Canada, there is a significant demand for hydrogen for industrial purposes, both to upgrade bitumen and as a chemical agent. The key driver for this research is the need to assess options for the energy industry to lower its carbon footprint by using hydrogen produced from renewable sources. The environmental impacts associated with hydrogen production through water electrolysis using the electricity generated from a wind power plant are evaluated in this paper. A life cycle assessment was done to determine the greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions per unit mass of produced hydrogen by considering the emissions starting from the extraction of wind energy to the production of hydrogen. An uncertainty analysis was conducted to assess the effects of variations of different input parameters on the GHG footprint of hydrogen produced from wind. The total GHG emissions of a wind-based hydrogen production plant are estimated to be 0.68±0.05 kg CO2 eq./kg H2, 65% of which are from the construction of the wind power system. The results are compared with those of conventional fossil fuel-based systems. The overall GHG emissions from wind-based hydrogen production are about 94% lower than those associated with hydrogen production through steam methane reforming (SMR). Natural gas-based hydrogen production emissions are mainly found in the plant operation stage. However, for wind-to-hydrogen systems, the manufacturing and installation of the systems have significant environmental impacts. However, the hydrogen produced from wind energy can significantly reduce the GHG footprint of the energy industry.

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    Article (Draft / Submitted)
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    Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International
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  • Citation for previous publication
    • Ghandehariun, Samane, & Kumar, Amit (2016). Life cycle assessment of wind-based hydrogen production in Western Canada. International Journal of Hydrogen Energy, 41(22), 9696–9704.
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