Discussion Paper

Countries as suppliers

Chapter 4.1

Snapshot of the World’s strongest renewable electricity potential Picture: based on (World Energy Council - Germany, 2018, p. 39)

Countries may become powerfuels producers for a variety of reasons. Many economies, especially in developing and emerging incomes, are currently based on the export of (fossil) energy. For those countries, powerfuels can be an opportunity to hedge against the risk of not being able to sell their reserves, as importing countries increasingly strive to become climate-neutral. Moreover, powerfuels constitute a business opportunity for countries which possess abundant space and good conditions for renewable power to become exporters themselves. Powerfuels may then become sources of economic growth and employment.

Various previous studies have contributed to the analysis of possible suppliers (Deutsche Energie Agentur & Ludwig-Bölkow Systemtechnik, 2017 | Fasihi & Breyer, 2017 | Pfenning & Gerhardt, 2017 | Singh, Moore, & Shadis, 2005 | Drennen & Schoenung, 2014 | Fasihi et al., 2016), however most of them focus on analysing only selected countries (such as Europe as a supply region) or aggregate data regionally. The most comprehensive study on this matter was published by World Energy Council - Germany (World Energy Council - Germany, 2018), which bases its analysis by first examining the technical renewable potentials, followed by secondary factors such as economic and political framework conditions. With regards to these technical factors, the most widely quoted data originates from Fasihi et al (Fasihi & Breyer, 2017), which demonstrates that the high load factors of powerfuels plants necessary for competitive powerfuels are attainable through an optimal combination of wind and solar resources around the world, which many countries exhibit. Figure 11 shows these technical potentials for selected countries. Evidently, most large and economical powerfuels potentials are situated outside of densely-populated industrialised countries such as many European Countries, Korea and Japan. From the current discussion around powerfuels supply countries, a number of narratives emerges that describe reasons which may lead countries to become powerfuels suppliers. The table shows the typology proposed by World Energy Council - Germany (World Energy Council - Germany, 2018, p. 45).





  • Powerfuels already on countries’ (energy) political radar
  • Export potential and Powerfuels readiness evident
  • Uncomplicated international trade partner

⇒ Especially  favourable  in early stages of market penetration


Hidden champions

  • Fundamentally unexplored RES potential
  • Largely mature, but often underestimated, (energy) political framework with sufficiently strong institutions

⇒ Powerfuels could  readily  become a serious topic if facilitated  appropriately



  • Abundant resource availability: massive land areas paired with often extensive RES power
  • Powerfuels readiness not necessarily precondition, may require facilitation

⇒ Provide order of powerfuels magnitudes  demanded  in mature market


Hyped potentials

  • At centre of powerfuels debate in Europe with strong powerfuels potential
  • Energy partnerships with Europe foster political support

⇒ Potential  to lead technology  development;  may  depend  strongly  on solid political  facilitation



  • Global long term conversion from fossil to green energy sources
  • Powerfuels to diversify portfolio as alternative long-term growth strategy

⇒ Strong  motivation  for powerfuels export technology  development;  may requires political  facilitation  and partnership  with  the demand countries

Saudi Arabia

Uncertain candidates

  • Partially unexplored RES potentials, possibly paired with ambitious national climate change policies
  • Powerfuels export in competition with growing national energy demand

⇒ Powerfuels export motivation  and potential  unclear – may  drive powerfuels technology  development,  however  export uncertain


Typology of future powerfuels producers, adapted from (World Energy Council - Germany, 2018, p. 45).

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