On the Cost of Zero Carbon Hydrogen: A Techno-Economic Analysis of Steam Methane Reforming with Carbon Capture and Storage

29 Pages Posted: 17 Dec 2022

See all articles by Daniel Mullen

Daniel Mullen

University of Edinburgh - School of Engineering

Laura Herraiz

Heriot Watt University

Jon Gibbins

University of Sheffield

Mathieu Lucquiaud

University of Sheffield - Department of Mechanical Engineering

Abstract

This article challenges the view that zero carbon hydrogen from steam methane reforming (SMR) is prohibitively expensive and that the cost of CO2 capture increases exponentially as residual emissions approach zero; a flawed narrative often eliminating SMR produced hydrogen as a route to net zero. We show that the capture and geological storage of 100% of the fossil CO2 produced in a SMR is achievable with commercially available post-combustion capture technology and an open art solvent. The Levelised Cost of Hydrogen (LCOH) of 67£/MWhth HHV (2.6£/kg) for UK production remains competitive to other forms of low carbon hydrogen, but retains a hydrogen lifecycle carbon intensity of 5gCO2e/MJ (LHV) due to natural gas supply chain and embodied greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. Compensating for the remaining lifecycle GHG emissions via Direct Air Capture with geological CO2 Storage (DACCS) increases the LCOH to 69-84 £/MWhth HHV (+3-26%) for a cost estimate of 100-1000 £/tCO2 for DACCS and the 2022 UK natural gas supply chain methane emission rates. Finally, we put in perspective the cost of CO2 avoidance of fuel switching from natural gas to hydrogen with long term price estimates for natural gas use and DACCS, and hydrogen produced from electrolysis.

Keywords: carbon capture and storage, Zero Carbon Hydrogen, Net Zero, CCUS, Blue Hydrogen, Techno-economics

Suggested Citation

Mullen, Daniel and Herraiz, Laura and Gibbins, Jon and Lucquiaud, Mathieu, On the Cost of Zero Carbon Hydrogen: A Techno-Economic Analysis of Steam Methane Reforming with Carbon Capture and Storage. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=4305552 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.4305552

Daniel Mullen (Contact Author)

University of Edinburgh - School of Engineering ( email )

The Kings Buildings
Edinburgh, EH9 3JL
United Kingdom

Laura Herraiz

Heriot Watt University ( email )

Institute of Petroleum Engineering
Edinburgh, EH144AS
United Kingdom

Jon Gibbins

University of Sheffield ( email )

Sir Frederick Mappin Building
Mappin Street
Sheffield, S1 3JD
United Kingdom

Mathieu Lucquiaud

University of Sheffield - Department of Mechanical Engineering

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