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An Assessment of the Near-Term Costs of Hydrogen Refueling Stations and Station Components


Research Report

Hydrogen Pathways Program

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Suggested Citation:
Weinert, Jonathan X. and Timothy E. Lipman (2006) An Assessment of the Near-Term Costs of Hydrogen Refueling Stations and Station Components. Institute of Transportation Studies, University of California, Davis, Research Report UCD-ITS-RR-06-03

Interest in hydrogen as a transportation fuel is growing in California. Plans are underway to construct a "Hydrogen Highway" network of stations across the state to stimulate fuel cell vehicle deployment. One of the key challenges in the planning and financing of this network is determining the costs of the stations. The purpose of this report is to examine the near-term costs of building hydrogen stations of various types and sizes.

The costs for seven different station types are analyzed with respect to size, siting factors, and operating factors. The first section of the report reviews the existing body of knowledge on hydrogen station costs. In the second section, we present hydrogen station cost data from the Compendium of Hydrogen Refueling Equipment Costs (CHREC), a database created to organize and analyze data collected from equipment suppliers, existing stations and literature. The third section of the report presents the Hydrogen Station Cost Model (HSCM), an engineering/economic model developed to analyze the cost of stations.

Based on the hydrogen station cost analysis conducted here, we conclude the following:
  • Commercial scale hydrogen station costs vary widely, mostly as a function of station size, and with a range of approximately $500,000 to over $5 million for stations that produce and/or dispense 30 kg/day to 1,000 kg/day of hydrogen. Mobile hydrogen refuelers represent less expensive options for small demand levels, with lower capital costs of about $250,000.
  • Existing hydrogen station cost analyses tend to under-estimate true station costs by assuming high production volume levels for equipment, neglecting station installation costs, omitting important station operating costs, and assuming optimistically high capacity factors.
  • Station utilization (i.e. capacity factor) has the most significant impact on hydrogen price.
  • Hydrogen fuel costs can be reduced by siting stations at strategic locations such as government-owned fleet yards and facilities that use hydrogen for industrial purposes.
  • Hydrogen fuel costs ($/kg) are higher at small stations (10-30 kg/day) that are burdened with high installation costs and low utilization of station infrastructure.
  • Energy stations that produce electricity for stationary uses and hydrogen for vehicles have the potential for low-cost hydrogen due to increased equipment utilization. Costs of energy stations are uncertain because few have been built.