- Student Dissertation or Thesis
Abstract: Climate change is a systemic risk to the world’s economy. Significant and rapid cuts in carbon emissions are needed to limit global warming. Fuel Cell Electric Vehicles (FCEV) offer an attractive alternative for decarbonizing the transportation sector for both Light Duty and Heavy Duty categories. The cost of hydrogen fuel cell-related technologies are decreasing rapidly and FCEVs may provide an alternative to electric vehicles in decarbonization.
This thesis provides a fresh look at economics of FCEVs and competing alternatives for decarbonizing transportation and their long-term trends in the US. Based on the recent data, the total cost of ownership (TCO) models are developed for three types of drive train Internal Combustion Engine Vehicles (ICEV), Battery Electric Vehicles (BEV) and FCEV for both Light Duty Vehicle (LDV) and Heavy Duty Vehicle (HDV) categories. A hydrogen retail cost model is developed to provide a detailed understanding of the cost components. The fleet dynamics of Light Duty vehicles (LDV), including ICEV, BEV and FCEV, are modeled using MIT Economic Projection and Policy Analysis (EPPA) model to understand the characteristics of long-term trajectories for the LDV fleet growth in the US.
The TCO for BEV and FCEV are higher than ICEV in the LDV sector in the absence of carbon abatement credits or other government support. This implies that FCEVs are about 10% more expensive than BEVs on a cost-per-mile basis. However, there are cost reduction pathways that might make FCEVs competitive in the next 10 years and n the scenarios of accelerated actions. The percentage of FCEVs in total vehicle stock in the US might grow to more than 14% by 2050. The growth is contingent upon the TCO reduction pathways. The TCO of BEV and FCEV Class 8 type trucks are 24% and 40% higher than ICEV trucks, respectively. The fuel cost for FCEV is 2.4 times of BEV’s fuel cost and the retail price of FCEV Class 8 type truck is 1.5 times that of BEV truck. A 40% reduction in hydrogen retail price or a 70% reduction in FCEV truck retail price would make FCEV trucks cheaper than BEV trucks. In all scenarios, substantial government support is needed in the forms of R&D, infrastructure development and financial incentives to realize the potential of hydrogen based transportation.