Cost Comparison of Wind Energy Delivered as Electricity or Hydrogen for Vehicles

Marc W. Melaina, Genevieve Saur

Research output: Contribution to conferencePaperpeer-review


A simple cost analysis framework compares hydrogen and electricity as energy carriers delivering wind energy to light-duty vehicles (LDVs). We compare four wind energy pathways within a 2040-2050 timeframe and at large scale: a dedicated electricity transmission pathway and three distinct wind-hydrogen delivery pathways. Our results suggest that wind-hydrogen pathways will tend to be more costly than pure electricity transmission pathways on a per-mile driven cost basis ($/mile), but to a greater or lesser degree depending upon the pathway. The additional cost could be warranted to the degree that the hydrogen pathway adds value to consumers through full performance fuel cell electric vehicles (FCEV) compared to plug-in electric vehicles (PEVs), or through reduced variability in wind energy supply. If these benefits add value beyond the incremental costs suggested by our simple cost framework, some shift toward co-production or even dedicated hydrogen wind farms may be warranted. Results suggest that both wind-hydrogen and electricity transmission systems delivery energy within a cost range of $0.05-$0.21 per mile for LDVs, similar to costs associated with gasoline vehicles. Additional analysis is needed to better understand regional variations, premiums for energy storage, and network-related transmission issues.

Original languageAmerican English
StatePublished - 2013
EventSAE 2013 World Congress and Exhibition - Detroit, MI, United States
Duration: 16 Apr 201318 Apr 2013


ConferenceSAE 2013 World Congress and Exhibition
Country/TerritoryUnited States
CityDetroit, MI

NREL Publication Number

  • NREL/CP-5400-57345

Other Report Number

  • Paper No. 2013-01-1038


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