The Role of Nuclear Power in the Hydrogen Economy

Cost and Competitiveness

Hydrogen is expected to play important roles in decarbonised energy systems, as an energy source for otherwise hard-to-electrify sectors as well as a storage vector to enhance power system flexibility. However, hydrogen is not a primary energy resource and has to be produced using different chemical processes. Water electrolysis, which uses electricity to split water molecules to extract hydrogen, is expected to become a leading solution in this context. Electrolysis will, however, only be a feasible solution if the electricity used as feedstock comes from low-carbon sources. A significant number of countries are therefore considering a role for nuclear energy in their hydrogen strategies.

This report provides an assessment of the costs and competitiveness of nuclear-produced hydrogen across the hydrogen value chain and explores the impacts of hydrogen production on the overall costs of integrated electricity and energy systems. It shows, in particular, that nuclear energy can be a competitive source to produce and deliver low-carbon hydrogen for centralised industrial demand. The large scale and dispatchability of nuclear power can also improve the cost-efficiency of hydrogen transport and storage infrastructures, and reduce the overall costs of the energy system.