Electrolyzers in the System Advisor Model (SAM): A Techno-Economic Potential Study

Research output: NRELTechnical Report


A technoeconomic analysis of grid to low temperature electrolysis (Grid-LTE), photovoltaic to low temperature electrolysis (PV-LTE), concentrating solar power to high temperature electrolysis (CSP-HTSE) and a concentrating solar power with PV to high temperature electrolysis (CSP-PV-HTSE) centralized hydrogen production systems are analyzed to assess the economics of system and to provide a baseline for comparing these technologies against hydrogen production cost targets. A framework integrating the system advisor model (SAM) and US Department of Energy hydrogen production models (H2A) is developed to assess these systems. The hydrogen levelized cost given current and future assumptions for technology cost and performance is evaluated at optimal system configurations. The framework described in this report integrates SAM with H2A electrolyzer technologies and provides analysts a detailed technoeconomic method to analyze concentrating and photovoltaic solar technologies to produce energy that are directly coupled to LTE and HTSEs that use that energy to split water into hydrogen and oxygen. The baseline hydrogen levelized cost (HLCs) for the GRID-LTE, PV-LTE, CSP-HTSE, and CSP-PV-HTSE systems in Daggett, CA are 2.82, 3.86, 3.68, and 2.90 $USD 2016/kg H2 and 2.50, 2.13, 2.84, 2.15 $USD 2016/kg H2 in the 2020 and 2050 scenarios respectively. To achieve the $2/kg H2 target in locations with excellent solar resources, cost parameters values aligned with aggressive R&D targets will need to be achieved for all the systems configurations. In Daggett, PV costs of $0.68 /Wac or moderate ATB PV CAPEX projections result in HLCs of $2 /kg H2. Similarly for PV-MSALT-HTSE systems, $0.60 /Wac result in $2/kg H2. For the MSALT-HTSE systems, better than aggressive 2050 ATB salt tower CAPEX projections would be needed to reach $2/kg H2. Molten salt tower capital costs of $2400/kW would enable $2/kg H2 in 2050.
Original languageAmerican English
Number of pages71
StatePublished - 2023

NREL Publication Number

  • NREL/TP-6A20-83155


  • H2@Scale
  • H2A
  • solar to hydrogen
  • system advisor model
  • technoeconomic analysis


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