Wärtsilä looks into potential of Power-to-X fuels for power generation

Finnish technology group Wärtsilä has published a new whitepaper on the potential of Power-to-X (P2X) fuels for power generation.

Courtesy of Wärtsilä

An in-depth study in the whitepaper entitled “The feasibility of Power-to-X fuels for power generation” examines the entire value chain of P2X fuels, analyses cost predictions and provides a detailed analysis of P2X fuels in energy systems.

Converting electricity into carbon-neutral synthetic fuels via p-P2X technology is viewed as a viable means to achieve sustainable power production.

In the newly published whitepaper, Wärtsilä’s study examines green hydrogen, synthetic methane, ammonia and methanol as the main P2X fuel options for power generation.

“For power systems to be fully decarbonised we need to go beyond the solutions that are widely utilised today,” said Business Development Manager Tuomas Paloviita from Wärtsilä. “We need technologies that provide greater operational flexibility and facilitate the seamless integration of renewable energy. We believe that P2X fuels will be essential for meeting both the seasonal and shorter-term balancing requirements of the grid.”

The analysis showed that the choice of P2X fuel, particularly in the power sector, will be case specific and will depend on the available transportation and storage technology as well as safety, operation, and maintenance considerations.

The input cost of electricity has the biggest impact on the production cost of P2X fuels. Besides the cost of renewable electricity, the overall production cost is also significantly affected by electrolyser efficiency, CAPEX and the utilisation rate, Wärtsilä said, noting that geographical considerations, investment subsidy schemes and carbon legislation among other policy initiatives can have a significant impact on the choice and production cost of fuel.

The study found that green hydrogen has the lowest production cost which makes it an attractive fuel option amongst available P2X fuels.

On the other hand, ammonia, synthetic methane and methanol production are found to be more competitive compared to green hydrogen when long-distance transportation and seasonal energy storage are required.

In the case of ammonia, synthetic methane and methanol, production costs cover most fuel costs and they are competitive when long-distance transportation and more seasonal energy storage are required.

Furthermore, the cost advantage of locally produced green hydrogen can erode and the competitiveness of synthetic fuels, even imported, can increase when hydrogen is used to produce hydrogen derivatives at large scale. In this case, the cost of green hydrogen has an impact on the results, the study concludes.