Potential Size of and Value Proposition for H2@Scale Concept

Research output: NRELPresentation


The H2@Scale concept is focused on developing hydrogen as an energy carrier and using hydrogen's properties to improve the national energy system. Specifically hydrogen has the abilities to (1) supply a clean energy source for industry and transportation and (2) increase the profitability of variable renewable electricity generators such as wind turbines and solar photovoltaic (PV) farms by providing value for otherwise potentially-curtailed electricity. Thus the concept also has the potential to reduce oil dependency by providing a low-carbon fuel for fuel cell electric vehicles (FCEVs), reduce emissions of carbon dioxide and pollutants such as NOx, and support domestic energy production, manufacturing, and U.S. economic competitiveness. The analysis reported here focuses on the potential market size and value proposition for the H2@Scale concept. It involves three analysis phases: 1. Initial phase estimating the technical potential for hydrogen markets and the resources required to meet them; 2. National-scale analysis of the economic potential for hydrogen and the interactions between willingness to pay by hydrogen users and the cost to produce hydrogen from various sources; and 3. In-depth analysis of spatial and economic issues impacting hydrogen production and utilization and the markets. Preliminary analysis of the technical potential indicates that the technical potential for hydrogen use is approximately 60 million metric tons (MMT) annually for light duty FCEVs, heavy duty vehicles, ammonia production, oil refining, biofuel hydrotreating, metals refining, and injection into the natural gas system. The technical potential of utility-scale PV and wind generation independently are much greater than that necessary to produce 60 MMT / year hydrogen. Uranium, natural gas, and coal reserves are each sufficient to produce 60 MMT / year hydrogen in addition to their current uses for decades to centuries. National estimates of the economic potential of hydrogen production using steam methane reforming of natural gas, high temperature electrolysis coupled with nuclear power plants, and low temperature electrolysis are reported. To generate the estimates, supply curves for those technologies are used. They are compared to demand curves that describe the market size for hydrogen uses and willingness to pay for that hydrogen. Scenarios are developed at prices where supply meets demand and are used to estimate energy use, emissions, and economic impacts.
Original languageAmerican English
Number of pages17
StatePublished - 2017

Publication series

NamePresented at 2017 AIChE Annual Meeting, 1-3 November 2017, Lemont, Illinois

NREL Publication Number

  • NREL/PR-6A20-70457


  • curtailed electricity
  • economic potential
  • H2@Scale
  • hydrogen
  • technical potential


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