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Techno-Economic Evaluation of Hydrogen-Based Cooking Solutions in Remote African Communities—The Case of Kenya

Schöne, Nikolas; Dumitrescu, Raluca; Heinz, Boris

Hydrogen has recently been proposed as a versatile energy carrier to contribute to archiving universal access to clean cooking. In hard-to-reach rural settings, decentralized produced hydrogen may be utilized (i) as a clean fuel via direct combustion in pure gaseous form or blended with Liquid Petroleum Gas (LPG), or (ii) via power-to-hydrogen-to-power (P2H2P) to serve electric cooking (e-cooking) appliances. Here, we present the first techno-economic evaluation of hydrogen-based cooking solutions. We apply mathematical optimization via energy system modeling to assess the minimal cost configuration of each respective energy system on technical and economic measures under present and future parameters. We further compare the potential costs of cooking for the end user with the costs of cooking with traditional fuels. Today, P2H2P-based e-cooking and production of hydrogen for utilization via combustion integrated into the electricity supply system have almost equal energy system costs to simultaneously satisfy the cooking and electricity needs of the isolated rural Kenyan village studied. P2H2P-based e-cooking might become advantageous in the near future when improving the energy efficiency of e-cooking appliances. The economic efficiency of producing hydrogen for utilization by end users via combustion benefits from integrating the water electrolysis into the electricity supply system. More efficient and cheaper hydrogen technologies expected by 2050 may improve the economic performance of integrated hydrogen production and utilization via combustion to be competitive with P2H2P-based e-cooking. The monthly costs of cooking per household may be lower than the traditional use of firewood and charcoal even today when applying the current life-line tariff for the electricity consumed or utilizing hydrogen via combustion. Driven by likely future technological improvements and the expected increase in traditional and fossil fuel prices, any hydrogen-based cooking pathway may be cheaper for end users than using charcoal and firewood by 2030, and LPG by 2040. The results suggest that providing clean cooking in rural villages could economically and environmentally benefit from utilizing hydrogen. However, facing the complexity of clean cooking projects, we emphasize the importance of embedding the results of our techno-economic analysis in holistic energy delivery models. We propose useful starting points for future aspects to be investigated in the discussion section, including business and financing models.
Published in: Energies, 10.3390/en16073242, MDPI