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AC Transit files LCFS pathway application for H2 produced by electrolysis (solar): 0.00 gCO2e/MJ

(Alameda-Contra Costa Transit District), which operates the third-largest public bus system in California, has a fuel pathway application for gaseous hydrogen produced via electrolysis powered by renewable electricity (solar) with the California Air Resources Board (ARB) under the Low Carbon Fuel Standard (LCFS) regulation.

According to AC Transit’s analysis—which is supported by ARB Staff—the carbon intensity (CI) of the gaseous hydrogen produced by the pathway is 0.00 gCO2e/MJ—i.e., a zero-carbon fuel on a “well-to-tank” lifecycle basis.

AC Transit, which has been building a hydrogen fuel cell demonstration program since 2000, operates its own hydrogen fueling facility in Emeryville, CA. The total hydrogen dispensed includes on-site production as well as hydrogen supplied by the Linde Group. The on-site hydrogen is produced using a proton electrolyzer and two compression units.

The electrolyzer unit has a capacity of 64 kg H2/ day and the facility currently produces approximately 750 kg of compressed H2 per month. The hydrogen produced by electrolysis is mixed with hydrogen delivered by Linde and compressed at the two compression units. The compressed hydrogen is finally delivered to heavy-duty (HD) and light-duty (LD) fueling stations at the same site.

Electricity for the on-site generated hydrogen is sourced from two solar installations with rated outputs of 425 kW and 510 kW. All of the generated solar electricity offsets all electrical energy required for electrolysis and hydrogen compression at the facility. Because AC Transit is not claiming credits for its solar electricity, calculates a CI of 0.00 gCO2e/MJ for this pathway based on lifecycle analysis conducted using the CA-GREET 1.8b model.

According to four months of data provided by AC Transit to back up its application, the electricity requirements for H2 generation and compression (only the portion generated using electrolysis) are between 39% to 71% of total solar electricity generated during the four summer months represented by the data. In other words, under current operating conditions, the facility generates adequate solar electricity to offset all of the energy required for on-site H2 production and compression.

Because of the limited data set, ARB staff is only conditionally approving the application. If AC Transit meets the conditions set forth, it can retain the certified CI and continue to generate LCFS credits. Conditions are:

  • The company shall provide evidence that generated solar electricity offsets all of the electricity used in on-site H2 production and compression.

  • The company shall provide quarterly receipts for the next seven quarters to support quantity of H2 produced on-site by electrolysis; energy consumed for electrolysis; H2 procured from external vendor(s); total compression energy at the facility; and total solar electricity production.

  • AC Transit shall affirm that electricity generated at their solar installations is not used to offset credits under any other program (GHG-based or otherwise).

Comments

Davemart

Hydrogen and fuel cells are fossil fuel burn by another name?

Alain

....
From fossils produced during the big bang.

HarveyD

Not so sure...our lungs are also using lots of air elements and our estomac do a lot worse when using red meat?

All living things are using elements produced by nature.

ICEVs, CPPs, NGPPs and many others are among the worst culprit?

sd

The battery powered tram which is recharged at stops and then accelerated using a short piece of catenary as outlined in the article below seems to make a lot more sense and would be a far more efficient use of power than using solar power and electrolysis to generate H2. I am sorry but I just don't the rationale for fuel cells.

Davemart

sd:

You do not apparently differentiate between power which can be supplied on demand, such as hydrogen, and power which is not such as electricity from solar etc.

As EP argues here, nuclear power is a different matter, as it is 24/7.

Solar and wind however are not.

sd

Davemart,

You are right, solar and wind are not 24/7. Most wind facilities and all solar rated capacity needs to be divided by about 6 to arrive at the average power output. We do not have a sur of "renewable" power so it makes more sense to put whatever "renewable" power is available into the grid and back off the fossil fuel generation a little instead of going thru a number of inefficiencies of generating, compressing, and transporting H2.

Lad

"The total hydrogen dispensed includes on-site production as well as hydrogen supplied by the Linde Group."

The Linde Group is one of the largest gas suppliers in the world...I'll bet their hydrogen comes from reforming natural gas.

This is the old 'foot in the door game' to get people to adopt clean energy buses, when in reality what they are accepting is something entirely different; in this case, it's hydrogen manufactured using fossil fuels.

We read about the good success battery buses are having in replacing diesel and CNG buses. Why not build on this success and not throw s**t in the game by slowing down progress with this lie. If you want to run buses off sunshine, it is easier to charge batteries directly rather that waste energy with the inefficiency of using hydrogen. Hydrogen makes no sense when compared to directly charging batteries.

Nick Lyons

According to AC Transit’s analysis—which is supported by ARB Staff—the carbon intensity (CI) of the gaseous hydrogen produced by the pathway is 0.00 gCO2e/MJ—i.e., a zero-carbon fuel on a “well-to-tank” lifecycle basis.

So this analysis does not take into account the life cycle emissions-cost of creating solar panels, racks, wiring, electronics, construction, etc? Not credible.

Davemart

sd said:

'We do not have a sur of "renewable" power so it makes more sense to put whatever "renewable" power is available into the grid and back off the fossil fuel generation a little instead of going thru a number of inefficiencies of generating, compressing, and transporting H2.'

Run the numbers on hydrogen from renewables and they in the same ballpark as fossil fuels for efficiency even allowing for compression and so on.

There is not a straight cut off point for having a sur of renewables, it often depends on the time of day, the season and so on.

Even should it often be more economic to produce hydrogen from NG, note the compression in this article from solar.

Reformation can also be done using solar thermal, which is inherently more efficient than pv as there is no change of state.

So the answers are not something clear cut, which an absolute determination can be made for what is most efficient or economic in all times and places, in all latitudes and geologies.

For instance landfill etc has enormous potential, as does agricultural waste.

With process heat supplied by renewables, then we can certainly start looking at energy including transport self sufficiency for vast areas of the mid west etc.

So lets see how it goes instead of jumping to conclusions.

Davemart

Lad said:

'The Linde Group is one of the largest gas suppliers in the world...I'll bet their hydrogen comes from reforming natural gas.'

You would be betting wrong.
In California one third of hydrogen for transport is mandated to come from renewables, whilst in Germany:

'Linde already secures half of the hydrogen for existing CEP fuelling stations from “green” sources, and it will power the 20 new stations with fully regenerative hydrogen. The gas is obtained from crude glycerol – a by-product of biodiesel production – at a dedicated pilot plant at Linde’s gases centre in Leuna. The certified green hydrogen obtained in this way produces far fewer greenhouse gas emissions than conventional methods. Linde also has other sustainable sources at its disposal like bio natural gas and water electrolysis using wind-generated electricity, as part of the ‘H2BER’ project for example.'

https://fuelcellsworks.com/archives/2015/10/02/grand-coalition-for-hydrogen-daimler-linde-and-partners-to-build-new-hydrogen-fuelling-stations-in-germany-2/

You should not judge the potential for using renewables for hydrogen from the decades old existing practices in industry.

If you want to be even handed, you should also dismiss the possibility of having relatively green cars, as 99% or so are ICE, or green electricity, as most still comes from fossil fuels.

sd

and Davemart said:

"Run the numbers on hydrogen from renewables and they in the same ballpark as fossil fuels for efficiency even allowing for compression and so on."

So what? This is not an "apples to apples" comparison. You need to compare hydrogen from "renewable"
energy with batteries charged by "renewable" energy.

Davemart

sd:

As already noted you can't compare energy available on demand to energy which is not.

In addition at the average efficiency and T & D losses of the US grid you are in the same ball park for fuel cell cars and BEVs.

The supposed numbers which are bandied about purporting to show enormously higher efficiency are arrived at by making all the most favourable assumptions for electricity generation and none of them for hydrogen.

More even handed treatment will often come to an energy penalty for fuel cells and hydrogen, but nothing out of the way considering that it enables year round use of renewables.

No one has figured out how to do that without extensive use of hydrogen, so you are correct, it is not apples to apples, but not in the direction you mean.

Comparing the efficiency of power which is not there when it is needed and power which is is meaningless, and batteries can't solve that over the season, only overnight.

SJC

Nick,
The 100g per kg does not take into account the carbon used to make the drills, pumps, tankers, fuel and refining that goes into gasoline.

Roger Pham

@sd,
From solar and wind energies, BEV is 1.5 x more efficient than FCV on per mile basis. However, considering the much higher energy required to produce a BEV battery pack, the overall life-cycle energy consumption of BEV and FCV are comparable.

electric-car-insider.com

Roger, when you say the overall life-cycle energy consumption of BEV and FCV are comparable, do you mean the total energy consumption of manufacturing and operating the vehicle?

What size BEV battery? Are you including the carbon fiber of the H2 storage tanks?

HarveyD

Interesting side benefits from FCEVs:

1) to be able to use clean electricity from REs 24/7 via H2 storage.

2) to be able to use your FCEVs to supply your house during extended regular grid power outages.

3) to refill your FCEVs more quickly (under 5 minutes) than BEVs.

4) to get extended range (over 500 Km) in all weather conditions.

5) applicable to large long range trucks, buses, locomotives, trams, ships etc.

In other words, there is room for both technologies for future clean transportation. Pure EVs are ok for slight shorter range vehicles and FCEVs are superior for longer range heavier vehicles.

Nick Lyons

@SJC: You wrote:

The 100g per kg does not take into account the carbon used to make the drills, pumps, tankers, fuel and refining that goes into gasoline.

I'm not sure what you mean by this, but in any case, the larger point is that life cycle analysis really needs to consider the full life cycle of an energy delivery system. For instance, solar panels can take years to 'repay' the energy required to make them, not even considering racking materials, construction, etc. etc. Then you have to consider how long they last before you need to replace them, ongoing maintenance, etc. Same goes for wind or nuclear or hydro or the various fossil systems. Just looking at 'well-to-tank life cycle' is not giving the full picture.

Seems to me you need to compare systems based on their full life cycle.

SJC

I am referring to the total cost of production. Solar panels don't just show up and neither does gasoline. if you are measuring the total carbon emitted.

Roger Pham

@ECI,
Let's discuss lifecycle energy consumption between a long-range BEV vs an even longer-range FCEV.
Source for how much it takes to make Li-ion battery include the following reference from CARB, on page 7,
environment.ucla.edu/media/files/BatteryElectricVehicleLCA2012-rh-ptd

On the graph on page 7, which shows that it takes 100,000 MJ of energy to make a 300-kg battery pack. A Tesla pack weighing nearly 600 kg would take 200,000 MJ to make.
Life-time electricity consumption is 380,000 MJ to power the vehicle. That is assuming 55%-efficient conversion of NG by NG power plant. A Tesla Model S at 3 kWh per mile will consume 60,000 kWh at 180,000 mile lifespan. 60,000 kWh x 3,600 kJ/kWh = 216,000 MJ of Solar or Wind energy.

By contrast, an ICEV only showed 10,000 MJ to make the engine and transmission.

So, a Tesla Model S would required 200,000 MJ to make the battery pack + 216,000 MJ of RE consumption + 30,000 MJ to make and to recycle, and transport the vehicle to the customer = 446,000 MJ for total lifecycle energy consumption.

A FCEV consumes 1.54 times the energy of the BEV, so 216,000 MJ x 1.54 = 332,000 MJ. Assuming that it takes twice as much to make the FC and the H2 tanks vs engine + transmission, so 20,000 MJ, the 20,000 MJ for recycling and transportation, and a FCEV would have a life-cycle energy consumption of 332,000 MJ + 40,000 MJ = 372,000 MJ. This is quite less energy consumed in its lifecycle to the long-range BEV with a Tesla-size battery pack of 90 kWh.
446,000 MJ - 372,000 MJ = 74,000 MJ less energy consumption in the FCV vs BEV.

The Tesla is made of aluminum, which is far more energy intensive than the steel in the Mirai, and that fact is not even considered in this comparison!

The Carbon-fiber tank should have an energy content similar to coal, at 24 MJ per kg. Assuming it would take twice this to make per kg, or 48 MJ per kg, then the 90 kg tanks would require 4,320 MJ to make.

electric-car-insider.com

Thanks for posting, Roger.

RP> A Tesla Model S at 3 kWh per mile...

You have overstated energy consumption by 10x. If a Tesla Model S 85 consumed 3kWh per mile, it would only have an EPA rated range of 28 miles. EPA range is 265 miles.

Also, your estimate for energy consumption of the ICEV, the FCEV and the carbon fiber tanks all come from unsupported numbers.

Engineer-Poet

Given the extraordinary cost of "renewable" H2 over the basic cost of its energy input, I think the losses in the system are going to be a lot higher than ~40%.  The LCA must be recalculated accordingly.

Because AC Transit is not claiming credits for its solar electricity, calculates a CI of 0.00 gCO2e/MJ for this pathway based on lifecycle analysis conducted using the CA-GREET 1.8b model.

o_0

Obviously this analysis does not include the energy investment in the PV panels or the electrolysis, compression and storage systems.  Since it is using obviously faulty system boundaries it must be considered bogus.

The gas is obtained from crude glycerol – a by-product of biodiesel production – at a dedicated pilot plant at Linde’s gases centre in Leuna.

The triglyceride feedstock is a very limited resource, so the ability of glycerol-derived H2 to meet prospective demand must be documented for any such claim to be taken seriously.  I'm sure you can build an engine to run on Chanel No. 5 as well, but you'd be a fool to do it other than as a joke.

HarveyD

The cost to repair all environmental damages created by extracting, transporting, refining and burning fossil and bio fuels have to be added to the full cycle cost.

If we did, ICEVs may not be as cheap to operate as we think they are.

I visited BAKU lately, one of the earliest Oil City, the environmental damages created in the last 130+ years would probably cost more to repair than the total value of the oil extracted.

To go around the problem, the city has to expand Eastward into the receding sea, up to the new off-shore oil fields. It will soon be an unfit place to live.

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