Green Hydrogen and Power2X - What are the current real world applications of Power2X at scale ? - India Renewable Energy Consulting – Solar, Biomass, Wind, Cleantech
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Themes and Topics

  • Air Products and Chemicals Inc.
  • Carbon Recycling International (CRI).
  • Haldor Topsoe
  • ITM Power
  • McPhy Energy
  • Nel ASA
  • P2X technologies
  • Power-to-X
  • Royal Dutch Shell
  • Siemens Energy
  • Thyssenkrupp
  • What are the current real world applications of Power2X at scale ?

    Power-to-X (P2X) technology, where “X” stands for various applications such as fuels, chemicals, and other products, involves converting electricity, typically from renewable sources, into a storable and transportable form. The core idea is to use surplus renewable energy to produce hydrogen through electrolysis (Power-to-Hydrogen) and then convert this hydrogen into other forms of energy, materials, or chemicals. Here are some of the current real-world applications of Power2X at scale:

    1. Synfuels from Hydrogen (Power-to-Liquids)

    Synfuels, or synthetic fuels, are produced from hydrogen and carbon dioxide through processes such as Fischer-Tropsch synthesis. These fuels can replace conventional fossil fuels in transportation, especially in sectors difficult to electrify, such as aviation and heavy transport.

    • Aviation: Companies like Norsk e-Fuel in Norway are planning large-scale production of renewable aviation fuel (e-fuel) from CO2 and water using renewable energy. This approach aims to significantly reduce carbon emissions from the aviation sector.
    • Automotive: Synthetic gasoline and diesel produced from green hydrogen can be used in existing internal combustion engines, providing a lower-carbon alternative to fossil fuels. Projects in Germany and other countries are exploring the commercial viability of these synfuels.

    2. Hydrogen to Chemicals (Power-to-Chemicals)

    Hydrogen is a key feedstock for the chemical industry, used in the production of ammonia, methanol, and other basic chemicals. Transitioning to green hydrogen produced via electrolysis from renewable energy sources is a significant focus of the Power2X concept.

    • Ammonia Production: Green ammonia, produced from green hydrogen and nitrogen from the air, is used as a fertilizer and is being explored as a renewable fuel. The world’s first green ammonia plant at commercial scale is being developed in Saudi Arabia by NEOM and Air Products.
    • Methanol Production: Methanol is another chemical that can be produced from green hydrogen and captured CO2. It serves as a feedstock for various chemical products and as a renewable fuel. Projects like the one by Carbon Recycling International in Iceland are leading the way in green methanol production.

    3. Hydrogen to Unique Products (Power-to-Products)

    Beyond fuels and chemicals, green hydrogen is used to create unique products, demonstrating the versatility of Power2X technologies.

    • Steel Production: One of the most notable applications is in green steel production, where hydrogen replaces coking coal in the steelmaking process. Companies like HYBRIT in Sweden are pioneering the use of hydrogen in steel production, aiming to make the industry carbon-neutral.
    • Sustainable Plastics: Hydrogen is used to produce ethylene, a building block for plastics, through steam cracking. Transitioning to green hydrogen in this process can significantly reduce the carbon footprint of plastic production. Efforts are underway to integrate green hydrogen into existing petrochemical production pathways.

    TOP 10 COMPANIES WORKING ON P2X:

    • Siemens Energy: A global leader in power generation and energy services, Siemens Energy has been actively involved in developing electrolysis technologies for green hydrogen production, a key component of P2X processes.
    • Air Products and Chemicals, Inc.: This multinational corporation has been investing in projects related to hydrogen production, including electrolysis and steam methane reforming coupled with carbon capture and storage (CCS).
    • Royal Dutch Shell: Shell has been exploring various P2X applications, including synthetic fuels and chemicals. The company has announced several initiatives related to renewable hydrogen production and carbon capture.
    • Nel ASA: A Norwegian company specializing in hydrogen production, Nel ASA offers electrolyzers for green hydrogen production and has been involved in numerous projects worldwide.
    • McPhy Energy: This French company focuses on hydrogen production and storage solutions, including electrolysis technology. McPhy Energy has been involved in projects related to renewable hydrogen production.
    • Thyssenkrupp: A German industrial conglomerate, thyssenkrupp has been involved in the development of technologies for green hydrogen production and its applications in various sectors, including steel production.
    • ITM Power: A UK-based company specializing in hydrogen energy solutions, ITM Power designs and manufactures integrated hydrogen energy systems, including electrolyzers for green hydrogen production.
    • Haldor Topsoe: This Danish company is known for its expertise in catalysis and process technology, including technologies relevant to P2X applications such as ammonia production and methanol synthesis.
    • Carbon Recycling International (CRI): Based in Iceland, CRI focuses on the production of renewable methanol from CO2 and hydrogen. The company’s approach involves the use of renewable energy for methanol synthesis.
    • Norsk e-Fuel: This Norwegian company aims to produce renewable aviation fuels (e-fuels) from CO2 and water using renewable energy. Norsk e-Fuel is among the companies exploring the commercial viability of synthetic fuels produced through P2X processes.

    KEY GOVERNMENT POLICIES:

    • India:
      • National Hydrogen Energy Mission: India announced plans to launch a National Hydrogen Energy Mission aimed at promoting the production and use of hydrogen as a clean energy source. This mission is expected to encompass various aspects of hydrogen production, including Power-to-X technologies.
      • FAME India Scheme: The Faster Adoption and Manufacturing of Hybrid and Electric Vehicles (FAME) India scheme includes provisions for promoting hydrogen fuel cell vehicles, which can utilize hydrogen produced through P2X technologies.
      • Green Hydrogen Policy: Several Indian states, including Gujarat, Maharashtra, and Andhra Pradesh, have announced or are considering policies to promote green hydrogen production, which could include incentives for P2X projects.
    • European Union:
      • European Green Deal: The European Green Deal is a comprehensive set of policy initiatives by the European Commission aimed at making Europe climate-neutral by 2050. This includes support for renewable hydrogen production and P2X technologies to decarbonize industries like steel, chemicals, and transportation.
      • Hydrogen Strategy: The European Union’s Hydrogen Strategy outlines plans to scale up renewable hydrogen production, including through P2X technologies, to achieve climate targets.
    • Germany:
      • National Hydrogen Strategy: Germany has developed a National Hydrogen Strategy that includes measures to support the development of a domestic hydrogen economy, including the use of Power-to-X technologies for hydrogen production and utilization in various sectors.
      • Hydrogen and Fuel Cells (H2FC) Innovation Program: Germany’s H2FC Innovation Program provides funding for research, development, and demonstration projects related to hydrogen and fuel cell technologies, including P2X applications.
    • Japan:
      • Basic Hydrogen Strategy: Japan has a Basic Hydrogen Strategy aimed at promoting the use of hydrogen as an energy carrier. This includes support for P2X technologies to produce hydrogen from renewable sources like solar and wind power.
    • United States:
      • Hydrogen and Fuel Cell Technologies Office (HFTO): The U.S. Department of Energy’s HFTO supports research, development, and demonstration of hydrogen and fuel cell technologies, including P2X applications for renewable hydrogen production.

    SPECIFIC CHALLENGES

    • Cost of Green Hydrogen Production: The production of green hydrogen through electrolysis is currently more expensive compared to hydrogen produced from natural gas via steam methane reforming. High electricity costs, capital expenses for electrolyzer units, and the need for cost-effective catalysts contribute to this challenge. Reducing the cost of green hydrogen production is crucial for the widespread adoption of P2X technologies.
    • Renewable Energy Availability and Cost: P2X technologies rely on surplus renewable energy to produce green hydrogen efficiently. However, renewable energy sources like wind and solar are intermittent and not always available when needed. Additionally, the cost of renewable energy infrastructure and grid integration can be prohibitive, especially in regions with limited renewable energy resources.
    • Storage and Distribution Infrastructure: The existing infrastructure for storing, transporting, and distributing hydrogen is inadequate for large-scale deployment of P2X technologies. Hydrogen has low energy density and presents challenges in terms of storage and transportation, requiring specialized infrastructure such as pipelines, tanks, and compression facilities.
    • Technology Maturity and Scalability: Many P2X technologies are still in the early stages of development and may lack commercial scalability. Electrolyzer technology, catalysts for chemical processes, and systems for capturing and utilizing CO2 need further research and development to improve efficiency, reliability, and cost-effectiveness.
    • Policy and Regulatory Frameworks: The lack of supportive policies and regulatory frameworks tailored to P2X technologies can hinder their deployment. Incentives such as subsidies, tax credits, carbon pricing mechanisms, and mandates for renewable fuels are essential for incentivizing investment and adoption of P2X solutions.
    • Market Demand and Acceptance: The market demand for P2X products, such as synthetic fuels and green chemicals, is influenced by factors like consumer preferences, industry standards, and regulatory requirements. Building market acceptance and demand for these products may require education, marketing efforts, and collaboration across various stakeholders.
    • Environmental and Social Considerations: While P2X technologies offer potential benefits in terms of reducing carbon emissions and fostering energy transition, their deployment should consider potential environmental impacts such as water usage, land use, and emissions associated with production processes. Additionally, social acceptance and considerations regarding community engagement, job creation, and equity need to be addressed.

    TOP UNIVERSITY RESEARCH PROJECTS

    • Technical University of Denmark (DTU):
      • DTU Energy is known for its research on renewable energy technologies, including P2X applications.
      • Projects at DTU Energy focus on electrolysis for hydrogen production, as well as the integration of renewable energy sources into various P2X pathways.
    • ETH Zurich:
      • The ETH Zurich Energy Science Center (ESC) conducts research on energy conversion technologies, including P2X applications.
      • Projects at ESC explore the use of renewable energy for electrolysis, synthesis of synthetic fuels, and the integration of P2X technologies into existing energy systems.
    • Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT):
      • MIT Energy Initiative (MITEI) conducts research on various aspects of energy, including P2X technologies.
      • Projects at MIT focus on developing cost-effective and scalable P2X technologies, as well as assessing the role of P2X in decarbonizing different sectors of the economy.
    • Stanford University:
      • Stanford’s Precourt Institute for Energy conducts research on renewable energy and sustainability, including P2X applications.
      • Projects at Stanford focus on developing innovative P2X technologies, understanding their environmental impacts, and integrating them into the broader energy system.
    • RWTH Aachen University:
      • The Institute for Power Generation and Storage Systems (PGS) at RWTH Aachen conducts research on P2X technologies.
      • Projects at PGS focus on electrolysis, synthetic fuel production, and the optimization of P2X processes for grid integration and sector coupling.
    • University of California, Berkeley:
      • The Berkeley Energy and Climate Institute (BECI) at UC Berkeley conducts research on renewable energy technologies, including P2X applications.
      • Projects at BECI focus on the development of advanced electrolysis technologies, the synthesis of renewable fuels and chemicals, and the role of P2X in achieving carbon neutrality.

    CASE STUDY:

    • One example of a Power2X project is the “Refhyne” project in Europe, led by Shell and ITM Power, with funding from the European Union’s Fuel Cells and Hydrogen Joint Undertaking (FCH JU). The project aims to build the world’s largest PEM electrolyzer for hydrogen production at the Rhineland Refinery in Germany. Once operational, the 10-megawatt electrolyzer will produce green hydrogen for various applications, including transportation and industrial processes, helping to decarbonize the refinery’s operations and reduce carbon emissions.

    CONCLUSION

    Power-to-X (P2X) technology involves converting surplus renewable energy into storable and transportable forms such as hydrogen and synthetic fuels or chemicals. Real-world applications include producing synthetic fuels for aviation and automotive sectors, creating green chemicals like ammonia and methanol, and enabling innovative products like green steel and sustainable plastics. Key companies and government policies worldwide are driving P2X development, although challenges remain such as the high cost of green hydrogen production, the need for renewable energy availability, and infrastructure development. Academic research institutions are also contributing to P2X advancements, aiming to address technical and scalability issues while promoting sustainable energy solutions.



    About Narasimhan Santhanam (Narsi)

    Narsi, a Director at EAI, Co-founded one of India's first climate tech consulting firm in 2008.

    Since then, he has assisted over 250 Indian and International firms, across many climate tech domain Solar, Bio-energy, Green hydrogen, E-Mobility, Green Chemicals.

    Narsi works closely with senior and top management corporates and helps then devise strategy and go-to-market plans to benefit from the fast growing Indian Climate tech market.

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