What is Power-to-X, and what are Power-to-X-fuels?

Power-to-X-fuels can replace oil and gas completely. They are produced from renewable electricity, water, CO2 or nitrogen. They are climate neutral.

Remember we want to get rid of all those fossil fuels until 2050? If you are not sure why, we recommend to read the IPCC reports, e.g. this Summary for Policymakers: 


To reach „net zero emissions“, the following ingredients are discussed.

  • Less energy input for more useful services (or „energy efficiency“)
  • Energy consumption when energy is abundant (or „demand side management“)
  • Electrification wherever possible, because it is the most efficient pathway in many applications
  • Change habits of consumption
  • Power-to-X-fuels = Hydrogen and e-fuels

There is no doubt that Power-to-X-Fuels are a necessary ingredient in the „solutions mix“, mainly because of three reasons:

1. Long-term huge capacity energy storage: Electricity was (and still is) largely generated by fossil fuels,mainly coal and natural gas. Look at IEA´s „Net zero by 2050“ report if you don´t believe it. When switching largely to Solar and Wind, you will quickly find out that electricity supply and demand no longer match as before. You will encounter

  • Surplus electricity is generated when sun and wind are out at the same time = too much energy per hour to cover the demand per hour
  • Deficit of electricity happens when sun and wind are down at the same time = too little energy per hour to cover the demand per hour
  • Seasonal divergence of demand and production means too much electricity in summer on sunny days and too little in winter; this holds for regions well north of the equator – e.g. in the European Union.

These points will get worse in an exponential manner with increasing shares of wind & PV in the electricity system. 


2. Substitution of fossil oil and gas: There are some applications that cannot be defossilized without Power-to-X fuels, and even hardcore „electric only“ preachers do not doubt this:

  • Transport: ships and planes
  • Many industrial processes, especially if a hydrocarbon is needed as a raw material for a product (e.g. petrochemical products)
  • Power production when „sun and wind are down“ at the same time


3. Risk mitigation: the following holds for eFuels that are fully compatible with existing infrastructure and applications. You hence can always „fall back“ to eFuels and mitigate the risk of wind and solar projects as well as „hydrogen only“ projects.

The market for H2/eFuels is estimated by IEA to grow from "nearly nothing" ~ 0,3 GW (today) to 850 GW (2030) installed electrolyzer capacity to 3600 GW (2050). What are the costs?

  • 1 GW electrolyzer today costs about 1-2 bln €
  • reactors and BOP add between 1 and 4 bln €

„They call them trillions.“

Hydrogen and eFuels will become cheaper very rapidly within the next decades, because eFuels technologies are "young" - a lot of cost reduction is expected during massive rollout. Why do we think this will happen?

Let´s look at a well-known example:

  • Globally installed Solar PV grew from ~ 0,81 to 843 GWp from 2000 to 2021 – a factor of 1000, costs dropped by more than -90%
  • Electrolyzer capacity is forecasted to grow by a factor of 2800 from 2023 to 2030


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