Techno-economics of Solar Hydrogen Production
Authors: Remko Detz, Pascal Buskens, Jonathan van den Ham, Nicole Meulendijks, Bob van der Zwaan, Frans van Berkel, Gerard de Jong, Niels van Loon, and Dong Zhang
To reach the goals of the Paris Agreement, the use of fossil fuels should be avoided to limit a further increase of greenhouse gas concentrations in the Earth’s atmosphere. As the need for energy remains, fossil fuels should be replaced with sustainable alternatives. Conversion of renewable energy into hydrogen may provide such an alternative. Technologies that enable the production of renewable H2 at low costs would be highly interesting.
Here we report about direct solar hydrogen production routes, in which in a single device, in contrast to PV coupled to electrolyzers, water is split in oxygen and hydrogen driven by light. We analyze the techno-economics of two solar hydrogen system setups, i.e. non-concentrated and concentrated irradiation, and different device configurations. First we indicate the maximum investment costs based on a top-down approach to produce hydrogen at 2 euro per kg. Next, we provide a more detailed system design for various devices on which we for each apply a bottom-up cost analysis. We determine the key cost elements and investigate potential cost reductions up to 2050 by applying learning curves. Our study indicates if, when, and under which conditions solar hydrogen production routes can reach production costs of below 2 euro per kg.