Hydrogen Module

This Stochastic Energy Deployment System (SEDS) module is a representation of the U.S. hydrogen economy. The model accepts as inputs the prices for various fuels—commercial and electric natural gas and biomass—and the demand for hydrogen. It then outputs the delivered price of hydrogen along with the demand for the aforementioned fuels.

The hydrogen sector model also accounts for distribution costs by using reduced-form cost functions based on costs for individual and urban areas as computed by NREL's Scenario Evaluation and Regionalization Analysis (SERA) tool.

Focus of Analyses

The effects of a carbon tax, investment tax credits, other policy scenarios such as a renewable fuel standard (RFS), and general cost and performance improvements due to R&D and LBD are the main scenarios of interest within the SEDS hydrogen module. These scenarios can be simulated individually or together to evaluate their effects on hydrogen fuel price and consumption, vehicle demand and carbon dioxide emissions.

Limitations of Analyses

Production and distribution of hydrogen is done at a national level, so it ignores regional variations in pricing and supply.

Technologies of Interest to U.S. Department of Energy

The technologies of potential interest to the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) in the hydrogen sector include central biomass and central and distributed steam methane reforming.

Overview of Methodology

Given the input demand for hydrogen from the vehicles module and the prices of biomass and natural gas (electrical and commercial), the hydrogen sector module calculates the needed production capacity (difference between demand and total current capacity) to meet this demand. It then simulates the addition of this needed capacity over time by using a logit choice function using the levelized costs of hydrogen per unit of output (kilogram of hydrogen). The model by default uses the historic capacity additions to constrain the maximum amount that capacity additions can grow compared to past additions.

The hydrogen sector module also models the hydrogen distribution costs (a major cost for hydrogen), which is the cost to deliver (transport, store and dispense) hydrogen fuel. The model uses reduced-form cost functions based on distribution of costs for individual and urban areas as computed by the SERA tool, which include a mix of centralized and on-site pathways involving a variety of technologies.

The distribution costs from NREL give low, mid, and high values, which are used to generate a triangular distribution to characterize uncertainty. The model accounts for the distribution costs as part of the levelized cost calculations, which is then weighted by each production type to estimate a vintage-weighted single hydrogen price for the vehicles module and, in return, receives the hydrogen demand.

The hydrogen sector module also models fuel consumed to produce hydrogen by the fuel types (biomass, natural gas commercial and electrical), which is passed on as output demand quantities to the respective modules.

Major Assumptions

  • Expert risk assessments were carried out for three hydrogen technologies (central biomass, central natural gas reforming and distributed natural gas reforming).
  • The base program (no DOE R&D) assumes no progress.
  • Target Program for Goal years are 2015 and 2025. There is no overtarget program for hydrogen.
  • Zero learning by doing is after 2025.

Portfolio Decision Support Inputs

For the hydrogen sector module, risk distributions are available for the following trusted platform modules:

  • Capital cost ($/KgH/day)
  • Operation cost ($/KgH/day)
  • Capacity factor (dmnl)
  • Intensity (1/efficiency).

Stochastic Inputs

The biofuels module has several stochastic inputs related to cost and performance of cellulosic ethanol production technology including:

  • Capital cost ($/KgH/day)
  • Operation cost ($/KgH/day)
  • Capacity factor (dmnl)
  • Intensity (1/efficiency).

Key Inputs from Other Modules

  • Natural gas (commercial) price
  • Natural gas (electrical) price
  • Biomass price
  • Hydrogen demand: light-duty transportation

Key Outputs to Other Modules

  • Demand for natural gas (electrical)
  • Demand for natural gas (commercial)
  • Demand for biomass
  • Hydrogen price
  • Hydrogen availability
  • Hydrogen production from biomass


Biomass, Biofuels, and Hydrogen Modules: SEDS Review - May 2009


Max Henrion, Lumina Decision Systems, Inc.

Surya Swamy, Lumina Decision Systems, Inc.