Product development company Ricardo Strategic Consulting is helping pave the way for California’s hydrogen (H2) economy by developing a total cost of ownership (TCO) modelling platform for necessary infrastructure with the California Fuel Cell Partnership (CaFCP).

Under the collaboration, the parties will provide economic modelling tools to enable the assessment of TCO of future fuel cell trucks and H2 stations necessary to support commercial operation.

The model seeks to provide a building block for assessing the economic viability of future vehicles featuring new powertrain technologies including H2 fuel cells, natural gas, battery electric, and hybrid by calculating key economic metrics such as total cost of ownership, payback period and internal rate of return.

It will feature a detailed build-up of capital expenditures and operating costs incurred over the ownership period of the vehicle, and include benchmarked vehicle prices, duty cycle based miles per gallon, itemised scheduled and unscheduled maintenance costs, future fuel prices and required infrastructure investment.

The toolset will be supplemented with economic models of refuelling infrastructure that convey insights on capital and operational expenses incurred when installing and operating refuelling infrastructure such as H2, liquefied natural gas (LNG) and compressed natural gas (CNG) charging stations.

The TCO modelling capability aims to provide insight on the economics of fuel cell technology as applied to commercial van and truck fleets, therefore giving up-to-date information to key decision makers in the field.

Commercialisation

Piyush Bubna of Ricardo Strategic Consulting underlined, “Economic modelling and assessment is vital in identifying and overcoming barriers to commercialisation of advanced technology, and to developing a strong business case against which customers can invest.”

CaFCP Executive Director Bill Elrick added, “Medium and heavy-duty fuel cell electric trucks will play a crucial role in reducing vehicle emissions in California, but are at the beginning stages of introduction. Ricardo’s TCO model provides an enabling toolset that will help CaFCP members develop a consensus view as to the potential of H2 fuel cell technology.”

The largest number of new H2 refuelling stations were opened in 2016. North America commissioned 25 of these new sites, 20 of which were in state of California.