which solutions are available and emerging around Power to X, and why this topic is relevant for the transition to carbon-free energy of the economy.
The European Union has committed to a net-zero strategy by 2050. This poses a huge challenge. Further development of solar PV and wind farms will help to decarbonise electricity use. However, sectors such as aviation, heavy industry, and chemicals are lacking viable decarbonisation options. Thankfully, Power-to-X innovations such as green hydrogen are emerging to solve this problem. Recent estimates indicate that hydrogen and synfuels could account for up to 23% of final energy in the EU in 2050. The successful integration of Power-to-X solutions, such as green hydrogen, will be key to unlocking Europe’s net-zero objective.
What is Power-to-X?
Power-to-X is an umbrella term used to describe the conversion of electricity into another substance. A common example of Power-to-X would be Power-to-Heat — or electrical heating. For example, using electricity to power a boiler which generates heat for space heating or hot water. This is the same premise as one of our 24/7 carbon-free electricity (24/7 CFE) pilot projects — where we digitally connect a 120 MW offshore wind farm to a 12 MW district heating boiler in the Netherlands.
Power-to-X has become a popular topic in recent years due to its potential role in the green transition. With the large-scale rollout of intermittent renewables, significant surpluses of power generated are expected at given times. Power-to-X creates solutions to prevent this excess electricity from going to waste.
Hydrogen is at the core of emerging Power-to-X technology. The initial starting point for most Power-to-X solutions will be the electrolysis process. In the process, an electrolyzer will use renewable power to break down water into hydrogen and oxygen molecules. Once hydrogen has been extracted, it can be used directly or processed for other Power-to-X products.
What are emerging Power-to-X solutions?
There are a number of different Power-to-X solutions across sectors. We have outlined some of the emerging solutions below:
- Power-to-Hydrogen: The primary Power-to-X solution, and doesn’t require any further processing. Hydrogen can be used directly in industry/re-converted to power in fuel cells. Project example: ACCIONA’s Power-to-Green H2, Mallorca
- Power-to-Methane: Synthetic Methane (or Natural Gas) can be created through the process of methanation. Hydrogen and CO2 are methanised to create synthetic methane. This can then be injected into the natural gas network. Project example: Project Lübesse, Germany
- Power-to-Syngas: Syngas can be created by electrolysing CO2 with water. This yields a mixture of hydrogen and carbon monoxide. Syngas can be used as a feedstock for synthetic fuels.
- Power-to-Synthetic Jet Fuel: The aviation sector is one of the most difficult to decarbonise. Renewable Jet Fuel can be created through the Fischer-Tropsch (FT) synthesis of syngas. Project Example: KEROSyN100, Germany
- Power-to-Synthetic Diesel: Renewable Diesel can be created through the Fischer-Tropsch (FT) synthesis of syngas.
- Power-to-Ammonia (NH3): Ammonia is a widely used chemical in agriculture and industry. Ammonia production can be decarbonised through the Haber-Bosch synthesis of renewable Hydrogen and Nitrogen. Project Example: H2-Based Ammonia Facility, Neom
- Power-to-Methanol (MeOH): Methanol is an important chemical for industry and is also an effective liquid organic hydrogen carrier (LOHC). Methanol production can be decarbonised through direct CO2 hydrogenation. Project Example: Djewels Methanol, Netherlands
Market trust will be key
The Power-to-X market is only just emerging. For the market to reach its potential, two key things need to happen. Firstly, we need greater availability of green electricity. Power-to-X will rely on cheap, clean power. Therefore we need to see a greater rollout of renewable power generation.
Keep reading the article in FlexiDAO’s blog.