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

  • Author / Creator
  • 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.

  • Subjects / Keywords
  • Graduation date
    Fall 2016
  • Type of Item
  • Degree
    Doctor of Philosophy
  • DOI
  • License
    This thesis is made available by the University of Alberta Libraries with permission of the copyright owner solely for non-commercial purposes. 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.
  • Language
  • Institution
    University of Alberta
  • Degree level
  • Department
  • Specialization
    • Engineering Management
  • Supervisor / co-supervisor and their department(s)
  • Examining committee members and their departments
    • Rajender, Gupta (Chemical Engineering, University of Alberta)
    • Marc, Secanell (Mechanical Engineering, University of Alberta)
    • Yongsheng, Ma (Mechanical Engineering, University of Alberta)
    • Bala, Venkatesh (Electrical and Computer Engineering, Ryerson University)