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Efficiency of hydrogen (caption to graph with Hydrogen myths and renewables realities article)

Tracking units of energy from source to customer illustrates that fuel cells cannot match the efficiency of large combined cycle gas turbines for delivering electricity. The graph is an illustration of energy units used during the processes of conversion and distribution during supply of electricity from natural gas, electricity from a fuel cell using hydrogen from natural gas, and electricity from a fuel cell using hydrogen from electrolysis using wind power generation.

Efficiency: Tracking units of energy from source to customer illustrates that fuel cells cannot match the efficiency of large combined cycle gas turbines for delivering electricity. If hydrogen is generated by electrolysis using wind power (or any other energy source), there are modest losses in the early conversion stage of 10-15%, followed by 10% losses in distribution. So even assuming a fuel cell efficiency as high as 50%, only about 36% of the original energy input is delivered as electricity. Reforming of natural gas to produce hydrogen is less efficient than electrolysis, with losses around 30%. After distribution, only around 31% of the original energy is available after passing through a fuel cell working at 50% efficiency. If natural gas is used to produce electricity, the efficiency of conversion is 50% or more; distribution losses are modest, so 45% of the original energy is available as electricity to the customer

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