Discussion Paper

Definition of powerfuels

Chapter 3.1

Various possible powerfuel processes, end products and example applications.

Powerfuels are synthetic gaseous or liquid fuels that draw their energy content from green electricity. Powerfuels are renewable and climate-friendly and can be used as energy carriers and as feedstocks. Our definition includes but is not limited to hydrogen, synthetic gas (e.g. methane, propane) or synthetic liquid fuels and chemicals (e.g. methanol, diesel, gasoline, kerosene, ammonia, Fischer-Tropsch products) and is hence technologically neutral. In line with the long-term goal of reducing GHG emissions, the carbon needed for the production of hydrocarbon powerfuels (methane, propane, methanol etc.) can originate from carbon capture of existing emission streams and biogenic sources, or from direct air capture technologies that draw carbon dioxide from the ambient air. Nitrogen (required for ammonia synthesis) can be captured by direct air separation units. The figure shows the various processes and end products of powerfuels processes.

In line with our definition of powerfuels, “e-fuels” and “synthetic fuels” are synonyms. However, we prefer powerfuels, as the wording e-fuels has mainly been used in relation to the mobility sector (Deutsche Energie Agentur & Ludwig-Bölkow Systemtechnik, 2017) and “synthetic fuels” is much more generic and does not reveal the importance of electricity in producing these fuels and is not necessarily related to renewable fuels. Therefore, we propose powerfuels as coherent wording, to overcome the shortcomings of the other terminology.

Read more