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  • Hydrogen - an ecological and economical

    The initial phase of implementing a modern technology is usually associated with quite significant costs due to the lack of instruments to scale the innovation. However, according to analyses of the Team of Economic Advisers TOR, the implementation of hydrogen has already become profitable and the cost of fuel will decrease with further commercialisation of the technology and development of infrastructure.

    As experts stress, the success of implementing hydrogen propulsion depends on whether the change will be systemic, meaning that it will include not only work on the hydrogen fuel itself, but also the development of infrastructure and financial mechanisms supporting the popularisation of hydrogen.

    The adoption of a pan-European zero-emission policy as part of the so-called Green Deal, and in Poland the creation of a national hydrogen strategy, have given a significant impetus to the real implementation of solutions of this type in various sectors of the Polish economy. What gives hydrogen an advantage over other alternative fuels is primarily a number of grant programmes supporting the purchase and operation of hydrogen powered vehicles.

    Analyses by Zespół Doradców Gospodarczych TOR show these trends on the example of implementations in public transport. Thanks to co-financing of up to 90% of purchases under the Green Public Transport programme, a bus powered by hydrogen fuel cells (H2) has today the lowest price in the market.

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    Nominally, hydrogen buses are one of the most expensive purchases on the market. Thanks to subsidies their price drops from 2.7 million PLN net to 270 thousand PLN net for 12-metre vehicles and from 3.85 million to 385 thousand PLN net for the 18-metre variant. For comparison - in the next call for proposals electric buses will also receive funding, but the 70% subsidy will reduce their price to PLN 630 thousand for a 12-metre vehicle and PLN 780 thousand for an 18-metre vehicle. Gas-powered buses, in turn, will be up to twice as expensive as hydrogen buses.

    Assuming that the life cycle of the bus is 12 years, the total cost of ownership (TCO) of a hydrogen bus also turns out to be similar to vehicles powered by gas or diesel. A vehicle with hydrogen fuel cells in the settlement of the entire cycle (investment and operational expenses) is in operation only about 1.36 PLN more expensive per 1 km than a 12-metre bus powered by electricity. Experts from ZDG TOR assumed that the average fuel price over the assumed 12 years will amount to: PLN 3.70/l for diesel, PLN 4.76/kg for CNG, PLN 0.35/kWh for electricity and PLN 32.5/kg for hydrogen.

    Available forecasts suggest, however, that by 2030 the price of hydrogen in the European Union will vary between 1.1 and 2.5 euros per kilogram, depending on its source. Experts do not rule out that the actual purchase price will be lower than 32.5 PLN/kg, and what is more, the price of hydrogen is expected to fall. The calculations of MZK Wejherowo show that using hydrogen from steam reforming of gas, the cost of fuel per 100 km will fall even to 21.14 PLN. This means that the daily work of 1 12-meter bus on the route of 250 km will then cost 528,5 PLN. This is a comparable price if we take into account the operating costs of e.g. electric buses. According to available calculations, electric energy in Poland may be in the next few years even twice as expensive as it is now. European sources indicate an approx. 35% increase in energy prices, which gives an average price of PLN 0.45 per 1 kWh, so in 2030 this cost should rise to at least PLN 0.61. Assuming a drop in hydrogen prices by about 50% by 2030, this means that H2 articulated buses will be practically at the same TCO level as electric ones. In the case of 12-metre vehicles, the difference will be only 94 gr per 1 km. When the price of hydrogen will come down to the level of 15-16 zloty for 1 kg, the TCO of H2 buses will already be lower or equal in comparison to battery vehicles.

    With further development of technology and popularisation of hydrogen as a fuel, its prices will fall, which will also enable the development of zero-emission individual transport. In the future, hydrogen cars are also likely to become the vehicles of first choice.