New Hydrogen Pipeline Vs HVDC Examine Much less Flawed, Extra Clearly Reveals Hydrogen Uneconomic


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For the previous few years there’s been a sub-genre of research making an attempt to faux that making hydrogen in a single place and utilizing pipelines to maneuver it to different locations is healthier than simply shifting the electrons utilizing HVDC transmission. It’s the Oxford Institute for Vitality Research’ flip to get it improper, though they’re much less improper than previous efforts.

A yr or so in the past I checked out a few the primary papers, and a few issues leapt out at me. The papers had been 2018’s Relative prices of transporting electrical and chemical power by Saadi et al and 2021’s Price of long-distance power transmission by completely different carriers by DeSantis et al.

As I famous on the time, that they had errors in frequent, and glances at different research discovered the identical ones. The primary downside was that they assumed that there was a really giant supply of inexperienced hydrogen molecules in a single location appropriate for placing right into a 1,000 km pipeline. This isn’t the case until you make hydrogen from pure fuel at a fuel subject. The entire small variety of kilometers of present hydrogen pipelines have a centralized pure fuel steam reformation system and use a couple of hundred kilometers of pipelines to get the pure fuel to main industrial customers, principally oil refineries. That’s true in Germany and it’s true in Alberta.

They assume hydrogen that’s grime low cost to fabricate, $2-$4 per kilogram per the 2021 research. As a result of inexperienced hydrogen takes 50 to 60 kWh of electrical energy per kilogram, relying on steadiness of plant, to fabricate, dehydrate and compress, and since a 28 part electrolysis plant is a excessive capital value, this is able to require $.02 electrical energy 24/7/365. The excessive capability issue requires firmed electrical energy, which implies a lot of wind and photo voltaic farms unfold over a big space, some storage and plenty of transmission to the electrolysis plant, all of which signifies that the electrical energy gained’t be $0.02 per kWh.

What this implies is that the assessments ignore a bunch of infrastructure required for the electrolysis facility and therefore a bunch of prices. Firmed electrical energy will value nearer to $0.10 per kWh in the true world for many years, outdoors of some locations with huge legacy hydro dams like northern Norway, Quebec and British Columbia, the place $0.5-$0.06 per kWh might be discovered. Which means hydrogen that’s at minimal 2.5 instances dearer, $5 to $10 per kilogram, simply to fabricate. The sooner research even used $1 per kilogram hydrogen, which might require free electrical energy and another person offering a present of a free electrolysis plant with no strings or prices connected.

The papers assume that the hydrogen and electrical energy simply magically seem on the finish of the pipeline and transmission, as a substitute of the hydrogen first consuming an excellent fraction of the power within the electrical energy. Then they assume, incorrectly, that HVDC strains are and have to be small, whereas hydrogen pipelines are large.

Even with all of this, at $1 per kilogram in a single paper, the hydrogen is twice the associated fee per unit of power as pure fuel.

After all, electrical energy will get into the excessive effectivity distribution grid, whereas on the finish of transmission, hydrogen will get way more costly on account of distribution prices. For context, grime low cost hydrogen comprised of pure prices $1-$2 to fabricate, but prices €15 to €25 at pumps in Europe and $30 at pumps in California proper now. Prices go up radically as quickly as you allow pipelines.

Then each papers ignore that hydrogen as an power provider must be used on the different finish, and molecules are nearly at all times much less environment friendly than utilizing electrical energy. Gasoline cells are 50% environment friendly on common at turning hydrogen into electrical energy for motors whereas electrical energy used straight or via batteries is way more environment friendly.

Burning hydrogen for warmth beneath 200° Celsius competes straight with warmth pumps, that are thrice as environment friendly on common, and in industrial settings normally extra environment friendly. There may be zero room for residential or industrial heating consequently.

The overwhelming majority of business heating functions above 200° are electrifiable straight, sometimes with effectivity features over utilizing burnable fuels. Even at power parity, the power will value multiples as a result of a lot electrical energy is misplaced between wind turbine and warmth.

That is exergy. The hydrogen pipeline research ignore it.

Then there was this yr’s DNV research, Specification of a European Offshore Hydrogen Spine, wherein 4 molecules-for-energy analysts within the molecules-for-energy facet of the agency labored on a report purchased and paid for by the European affiliation of pipelines, which actually wants molecules for power to be a factor or it and its members stop to exist. Yup, no conflicts of curiosity there.

I assessed it in an preliminary and followup article a couple of months in the past. It was barely higher than the 2018 and 2021 research, in that it included extra of the steadiness of plant for the hydrogen. Did it right the errors above? Solely in that hydrogen obtained barely dearer as they included extra actual world necessities, however it was nonetheless asserting that inexperienced hydrogen manufactured offshore could be delivered to the tip of the transmission line for €3.21 per kilogram in 2050 in the very best case, and that this was cheaper than any transmission of electrons.

Nonetheless lacking steadiness of plant. Low balling offshore infrastructure and operational prices. Utilizing HVAC transmission as a substitute of HVDC transmission to get electrical energy to shore for onshore electrolysis. Given HVDC transmission very excessive transmission losses in comparison with hydrogen pipeline efficiencies. They make pipeline operational prices a lot decrease than HVDC operational prices, though HVDC has no shifting components whereas pipelines have a lot of shifting components. They make offshore wind capability elements very excessive for hydrogen electrolysis. They make onshore photo voltaic capability elements very low.

With all of those thumbs on the dimensions for hydrogen, it’s nonetheless ten instances dearer than liquid pure fuel, the costliest type of electrical energy any nation imports as we speak. This isn’t the premise for an power economic system, however the foundation for financial catastrophe. Do they make that comparability? No, no they don’t.

As soon as once more, that is simply on the finish of hydrogen transmission however earlier than prices multiply for distribution.

Your complete report was structured to fulfill the necessity of the purchasers to faux that manufacturing molecules of hydrogen offshore at wind farms after which setting up pipelines all the best way to main demand facilities was essentially the most value efficient, and the DNV analysts contorted numbers and the area time continuum till the consumer’s wants had been glad.

And so, into this context comes the Oxford Institute for Vitality Research and their November 2023 report Hydrogen pipelines vs. HVDC strains: Ought to we switch inexperienced molecules or electrons?

They do a few issues proper, which is price noting. The primary is that they begin with the identical quantity of electrical energy initially of the pipeline and HVDC, 9,600 MWh. They then apply most electrolysis facility power losses earlier than placing hydrogen into the pipeline, and apply the a lot smaller effectivity losses to electrical energy earlier than it will get into transmission. That is good. That is a lot nearer to an apples to apples comparability.

They calculate the power delivered on the finish of the pipeline or transmission to be 1,152-5,712 MWh for the pipeline and seven,872-8,832 MWh on the finish of the transmission line. Sharp eyes will be aware that’s an terrible lot extra power on the finish of the transmission line. Being optimistic for the pipeline and conservative for the transmission and doing a easy common of each pairs of numbers finds 3,432 MWh for the pipeline, or 34% of the inexperienced electrical energy delivered, and eight,352 MWh for transmission, or 87%.

Which means the hydrogen pathway delivers solely 40% of the power within the electrons pathway. That signifies that all else being precisely equal, the power will value 2.5 instances what the electrical energy prices. They do some extra work to quantify the prices of the up entrance electrolysis after which asserted increased prices of HVDC transmission than pipelines, however that’s a little bit of a wash.

They burden transmission a bit with a larger requirement to bury it than they use for pipelines, which is odd as pipelines are typically buried for excellent lengths of them as properly. That’s a little bit of a wash.

However okay, solely 40% of the power delivered from the wind farms as a result of they really did some work on electrolysis, desalination and compression. That’s not less than nearer to an apples to apples comparability.

However then they fall over. First off, they be aware that getting firmed electrical energy in adequate portions to an offshore electrolysis facility will take much more wind farms, however then don’t issue the price of constructing all of these additional wind farms and energy cables into the equation. Like the sooner reviews, they type of faux that all the electrical energy simply magically will get to the offshore electrolysis platform and the pipeline begins there.

And their electrolysis facility is fairly mild, lacking as a serious part the hydrogen dehumidifier that removes water vapor from it earlier than transmission. As there are a whole lot of elements, they’re glossing over the steadiness of plant a bit. At the very least they’ve a steadiness of plant although, which as I’ve been been pointing round deeply flawed Worldwide Council of Clear Transportation reviews associated to hydrogen is normally lacking from assessments.

However then on the different finish of the pipeline, they fail on the exergy downside once more. They deal with the power delivered as molecules and the power delivered as electrons as being equal, after they aren’t. Gasoline cells are 50% environment friendly on common at turning hydrogen into electrical energy, requiring 5 instances as a lot electrical energy initially of the journey as a substitute of utilizing electrical energy straight or via batteries. For warmth beneath 200° Celsius, 7.5 instances as a lot electrical energy beginning the journey. For warmth over 200°, the place there may be nearly at all times an electrical possibility and it’s normally extra environment friendly, even assuming equal warmth power in hydrogen and electrical energy means 2.5 instances as a lot electrical energy initially of the journey.

They do be aware that there is no such thing as a marketplace for hydrogen for power as we speak, but use items of power for hydrogen nearly completely. They cite ranges of demand for hydrogen, however by no means query the expectation of huge quantities extra hydrogen or options for the power storage use case they categorical as a price proposition of pipelines. They be aware that there are vastly extra HVDC transmission strains in operation, accredited and beneath building and new hydrogen pipelines are barely on the design stage and don’t have any personal trade stepping as much as construct them, after which assume that hydrogen pipelines will likely be constructed.

And, as soon as once more, hydrogen distribution prices are ignored.

The info of their report makes it clear that there are nearly no locations the place placing electrons into electrolyzers to make hydrogen to place into pipelines makes the slightest fiscal sense in comparison with transmitting the electrons, but they conclude that the applied sciences are complementary and each will likely be utilized in giant quantities. They don’t query your entire premise of hydrogen as a provider of power regardless of the just about full lack of its use for that as we speak.

Contemplating these applied sciences as standalone rivals belies their complementary nature. Within the rising power panorama, they are going to be integral elements of a fancy system.

They don’t have the braveness to state what the info clearly exhibits. Nobody goes to construct hydrogen pipelines for power. What’s going to occur is that HVDC will likely be used to hold electrons in every single place, and the place there’s an industrial demand for hydrogen as a feedstock, it is going to be manufactured at level of use, identical to 85% of hydrogen consumed as we speak.

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