Graduation Date

Spring 2023

Document Type



Master of Science degree with a major in Environmental Systems, option Energy, Technology, and Policy

Committee Chair Name

Dr. Kevin Fingerman

Committee Chair Affiliation

HSU Faculty or Staff

Second Committee Member Name

Dr. Peter Alstone

Second Committee Member Affiliation

HSU Faculty or Staff

Third Committee Member Name

Dr. Arne E Jacobson

Third Committee Member Affiliation

HSU Faculty or Staff

Subject Categories

Environmental Resources Engineering



This thesis aims to investigate the techno-economic feasibility of on-site electrolysis-based hydrogen generation for the Humboldt Transit Authority (HTA), focusing on determining the levelized cost of hydrogen (LCOH) for various system configurations and utility rate schedules. The study recommends using a 2.5 MW electrolyzer with the B-20 (T) utility rate schedule along with an E-GT rate supplement provided by PG&E as the most cost-effective solution to meet HTA's projected hydrogen demand. This demand is currently based on the utilization of 11 H2 fuel cell buses, which is further expected to grow to 21 buses, and estimated public use at a hydrogen fueling station. The LCOH for this configuration is $6.08 per kg of hydrogen over the electrolyzer's 15-year (discounted by 5%) lifetime. By switching to on-site hydrogen generation, HTA can save around $6 million over the next 15 years compared to purchasing hydrogen from a commercial source at $7 to $9 per kg. Installing and operating a 1MW solar PV and 500kW & 1MWh battery energy storage system, and B-20 & E-GT rate supplement will result in a LCOH of $6.61 per kg of hydrogen. However, if the capital cost of the solar and battery energy storage is incentivized through state and federal incentives, the LCOH can be brought down to $5.73 per kg of hydrogen (with 100% capex incentives).

The cost of purchasing a new 2.5 MW electrolyzer is approximately $3.7 million. When using the B-20 rate structure to produce electrolytic hydrogen, it is recommended to oversize the electrolyzer to achieve a 75% utilization rate, as this results in the lowest levelized cost of hydrogen (LCOH). A utilization rate of 9% would have an LCOH of $18.89, and a utilization rate of 99% would have an LCOH of $7.09 (see Figure 33 in Section 4.3 for details). Oversizing the electrolyzer allows for the generation of hydrogen while avoiding the peak demand period of 4 pm to 9 pm, which typically incurs higher demand charges. By operating at a 75 % utilization rate, the electrolyzer can produce hydrogen more efficiently and at a lower cost ($6.42 per kg of hydrogen), resulting in a lower LCOH overall.

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