Understanding the economics of hydrogen production

March 12, 2024

The Universities of Adelaide, Melbourne and Queensland have worked together on a detailed technical and economic assessment of hydrogen production processes. They assessed 22 production methods from water electrolysis and biomass processing, to fossil fuels with carbon capture and storage (CCS). These included processes such as steam methane reforming, autothermal reforming and gasification, all combined with CCS. Methane Pyrolysis was also examined, where importantly carbon is transformed into a solid by-product, rather than gaseous carbon dioxide. They looked at every opportunity for low emission hydrogen production, modelling how feedstocks, capital and operational costs could be combined into a quantitative economic comparison. 

The depth of detail in this research project means you can look into every technology at a granular level, for areas to develop and reduce costs. Over half of water electrolysis’s total costs are from the electricity used, so driving cost reductions there would create major improvements in overall cost. For biomass processing, only electricity prices and the capital cost of the processing plants had a notable impact on the overall cost of hydrogen, which is where proponents need to focus their development work. For natural gas the modelling showed that autothermal reforming with CCS offers the current lowest potential costs but was heavily reliant on the cost of the natural gas feedstock. 

You can find the latest summary report along with our earlier work on this topic at RP1.2-02 Techno-economic modelling of fuel production processes