Greenhouse gas emissions must be reduced and fossil fuels must be intelligently replaced. Power-to-X is the solution to many questions relating to the Paris Climate Agreement. Green electricity is turned into synthetic fuels, which are used in numerous industrial applications.
The Paris Climate Agreement provides for a limitation of global warming of less than 2°Celsius compared to pre-industrial levels. Achieving this goal requires a significant reduction in greenhouse gas emissions: In all sectors – transport, buildings and industry – fossil fuels must be replaced by renewable energies.
A frequently discussed approach is to electrify all sectors as far as possible. As the share of “green electricity” in the electricity mix is increasing, there is great potential in the long term to reduce CO2 emissions.
However, this direct electrification is not equally feasible for all applications. In shipbuilding or aviation, construction or agriculture, energy sources with a high energy density are required. Otherwise no combine harvester could harvest the crop and no container ship could steer its cargo across the ocean. A current-based “one-size-fits-all” solution will therefore not be available during the energy turnaround. The energy turnaround should therefore not remain a pure “electricity turnaround”, which focuses primarily on electrification, but should rather pursue an open-technology approach to reducing greenhouse gases.
What is Power-to-X and why do we need it?
The Power-to-X technology makes it possible to split water into oxygen and hydrogen using regenerative electricity. The hydrogen can then be used directly or further processed into synthetic gas or liquids, such as methane (power-to-gas), liquid fuels (power-to-liquids) or chemical raw materials (power-to-chemicals).
This process is not new and has been known since the beginning of the 20th century. Above all, however, the increase in regenerative power generation and the necessity to achieve CO2 neutrality with the Paris resolutions make it economically and ecologically sensible to push this technology forward.
Power-to-X is an important topic for sector coupling, because with Power-to-X green electricity can be stored. This is a key element in achieving Germany’s and Europe’s energy policy goals. Power-to-X is also an issue for all industries that today deal with fossil fuels and raw materials and of outstanding strategic importance for those industries that are confronted with the “disruption” of the combustion engine.