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Large-Scale Maritime Transport of Hydrogen: Economic Comparison of Liquid Hydrogen and Methanol

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journal contribution
posted on 23.03.2022, 18:04 by Vladimir L. Meca, Rafael d’Amore-Domenech, Antonio Crucelaegui, Teresa J. Leo
For the first time, a comparative economic study between liquid hydrogen and methanol as hydrogen vectors for the bulk transport of hydrogen at sea has been performed. The objective of this study is to gain insight on whether it is cost-effective to produce green hydrogen locally or, instead, import it from another location overseas featuring lower costs of renewable energy. In addition, this study aims to determine the break-even point at which the hydrogen transport alternatives, covered in this study, become more inexpensive. The alternatives covered include the seaborne transport of liquid hydrogen or methanol with the reconversion to hydrogen at the destination through methanol electrolysis or a steam-reforming process. Three different production mass flow rates of hydrogen at the origin are explored, 100 kt/y, 1 Mt/y, and 10 Mt/y, in regard to three representative routes: Brazil–Spain, Brazil–The Netherlands, and Australia–Japan. The findings of this study suggest that for the production of hydrogen at 1 Mt/y with an electricity cost of 40 USD/MWh, liquid hydrogen is the cheapest alternative with a levelized cost of hydrogen at the destination of approximately 2 USD/kg for all of the explored routes. If the synthesized e-methanol reaching the import destination is directly used as an energy vector, the levelized cost of energy contained in this e-methanol practically coincides with that of liquid hydrogen at a mass flow rate of 10 Mt/y at the origin.