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Master of Environmental Science and Management: Master's Group Project
(2024)

Identifying Geographic Feasibility for California’s Hydrogen Hub

Group Members: Kristin Art, Hannah Irish , Lillian Liu, Nadine Snyder, Seth Villanueva

Faculty Advisors: Mark Buntaine, Ashley Larsen

Client: California Governor's Office of Business & Economic Development (GO-Biz)

Deliverables:

Proposal

Description

For California to meet its goal of reaching net-zero emissions by 2045, the state must make major reductions to its emission levels. While solar and wind power can assist in decarbonizing most of the power sector, and battery electric vehicles can replace traditional internal combustion engine vehicles in the passenger transport sector, there is still a large portion of the economy that cannot be easily electrified. These more difficult to abate sectors include cement manufacturing, heavy-duty transport, and more. Hydrogen can be utilized as an energy carrier to help fill this gap. However, California currently lacks the infrastructure to produce hydrogen at the quantities needed both to make it cost competitive with other fuels and to fulfill potential demand. California needs to locate hydrogen hubs, or centers of hydrogen production, processing, delivery, storage, and end-uses throughout the state in order to meet demand. The project team, in partnership with the California Governor’s Office of Business and Economic Development (GO-Biz), aims to locate the most efficient and effective locations for the rollout and implementation of the hydrogen hubs. To identify these locations, the team will follow a three phase approach. First, the team will build hydrogen demand curves for various counties and end-uses. This will help identify the price at which end-uses in different locations are cost competitive to switch to hydrogen, as well as how the quantity of the demand varies for different prices of hydrogen. The second phase entails conducting a suitability analysis to determine which counties have the water and renewable electricity supplies necessary to produce green hydrogen, and therefore the lowest production prices. Finally, the team will analyze the parity between the suitable production locations and demand hotspot clusters to identify specific policies that could improve the suitability of a region. Upon completion of the three modeling phases, the team will map the findings to visualize possible hydrogen hub locations and provide recommendations on how to decrease the cost and therefore increase the pace of building hydrogen infrastructure.

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