How is it possible to balance the energy produced with the energy consumed? Not all solar panels or wind farm installations have the capacity to accumulate surpluses. In this regard, the power-to-X system encompasses the processes for the conversion and storage of electricity obtained from renewable energy sources.
Power-to-X: Energy Types and Uses
The implementation of this technology offers a wide range of possibilities. With the following guide, you will learn about the type of resulting energy and the storage characteristics of each modality of power-to-X systems:
- Power to gas (PtG): in this process, green hydrogen is created through the electrolysis of water. With the addition of CO2, biomethane is obtained. Biomethane is easily injectable in existing natural gas infrastructures.
- Power to heat (PtH): it is essential in the control of supply networks. It regulates electrical flow and its absorption in the form of heat. Consequently, the accumulated thermal energy prevents overload and can be used as heating.
- Power to liquid (PtL): green hydrogen can be synthesized in liquid fuels such as methanol. Given its lower carbon footprint, it becomes a key element for industries with high energy demand.
The Importance of Structuring a Power-to-X System
The use of green hydrogen is one of the breakthroughs in technological development. This renewable energy source has potential as a hub for industrial decarbonization and smart city planning. Power-to-X systems introduce a scheme for the processing and distribution of this resource. These are the advantages of power-to-X taking into account international projection:
One of the goals of power-to-X systems is to achieve efficient storage for all the energy generated. Specialized batteries facilitate the use of accumulated reserves during high productivity phases. Thus, the user decides whether to use green hydrogen as a direct electrical generator or to transform it into synthetic fuel.
Advances such as big data provide support for managing energy expenditure. This makes it possible to set savings models based on consumption habits, thus reducing electricity bills.
With power-to-X systems, it is possible to articulate the different types of renewable energy (wind, solar, biomass, among others). Indeed, the emergence of regional energy markets allows for performance to be adjusted according to needs. For example, Denmark exports the remnants of its wind farm energy so that other Scandinavian countries don’t have to use the water from their reservoirs in hydroelectric processes.
Challenges of the Power-to-X System
Concerns persist about the logistical capabilities of power-to-X systems. Some of the most relevant challenges are:
The electrolyzers used for the production of green hydrogen require a considerable investment. In the Netherlands, the price of gray hydrogen (obtained from coal and oil) stands at 1.7 euros per kilo. In contrast, green hydrogen marks 3.4 euros per kilo (Roca, 2020).
The forecast, however, is that the costs of green hydrogen will fall to 2 and 2.5 euros per kilo by 2030. In this regard, solar and wind energy must stabilize their prices between 20 and 30 euros per MW, while the costs in electrolyzers need to decrease between 30% and 50%.
The power-to-X system only generates clean hydrogen if the electrical sources used in its production are clean. In the process, CO2, a non-renewable source, is used.
Additionally, the capture of CO2 from the environment has no application in this case, since this technology is still incomplete and expensive. Therefore, the proposal is to establish the origin of the resources to prove their sustainability.
The Current Secenario of Power-to-X in Europe
The European power-to-X scenario is quite encouraging in this sense:
- Investment: the European Green Hydrogen Acceleration Center (EGHAC) is planning investments of 100 billion euros until 2025 to guarantee sustainable energy projects. This implies the creation of 500,000 direct and indirect job positions.
- Legislation: European States have strengthened regulatory frameworks around green hydrogen. The energy storage strategy has had recent approval in Spain. This strategy aims at consolidating power-to-X.
- Innovation: R + D + I seeks to accelerate the competitiveness of energy projects with substantial improvements in electrolyzers and storage batteries.
- Systematization: the final objective of the actions taken is the structuring of an international green hydrogen market. This includes the valorization of supply chains with training of personnel in different productive areas.
In conclusion, the power-to-X system is a powerful alternative for the energy transition. However, while green hydrogen is versatile, its economics need to be adjusted, especially because users expect a service based on efficiency and environmental affordability.
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