Cost of Long-Distance Energy Transmission by Different Carriers

Daniel DeSantis, Brian James, Cassidy Houchins, Genevieve Saur, Maxim Lyubovsky

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

27 Scopus Citations


This paper compares the relative cost of long-distance, large-scale energy transmission by electricity, gaseous, and liquid carriers (e-fuels). The results indicate that the cost of electrical transmission per delivered MWh can be up to eight times higher than for hydrogen pipelines, about eleven times higher than for natural gas pipelines, and twenty to fifty times higher than for liquid fuels pipelines. These differences generally hold for shorter distances as well. The higher cost of electrical transmission is primarily because of lower carrying capacity (MW per line) of electrical transmission lines compared to the energy carrying capacity of the pipelines for gaseous and liquid fuels. The differences in the cost of transmission are important but often unrecognized and should be considered as a significant cost component in the analysis of various renewable energy production, distribution, and utilization scenarios.

Original languageAmerican English
Article numberArticle No. 103495
Number of pages25
Issue number12
StatePublished - 17 Dec 2021

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2021 The Author(s)

NREL Publication Number

  • NREL/JA-5400-81662


  • electrical transmission
  • energy transmission
  • hydrogen pipelines
  • long-distance energy transmission


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