What are Powerfuels?


A missing link to a successful global energy transition

Powerfuels are synthetic gaseous or liquid non-biofuels that draw their energy content from re-newable electricity. Powerfuels are renewable and climate-friendly and can be used as energy carriers and feedstock.

The definition of powerfuels includes but is not limited to hydrogen, synthetic gas (e.g. methane, propane), synthetic liquid fuels and chemicals (e.g. methanol, diesel, gasoline, kerosene, ammonia, Fischer-Tropsch products), hence being 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 industrial point sources (Carbon Capture and Utilisation CCU), Direct Air Capture DAC and biogenic sources. Nitrogen that is required for ammonia synthesis can be captured by direct air separation units.

In line with the definition of powerfuels, “e-fuels”, “synthetic fuels” and RFNBO (Renewable Fuels of Non-Biological Origin) are synonyms. However, the term powerfuels is preferred, as giving a more holistic perspective. The wording e-fuels has mainly been used in relation to the transport sector, while “synthetic fuels” is much more generic and does not reveal the importance of electricity in producing these fuels. Additionally, the term “synthetic fuels” is not necessarily related to renewable fuels. Therefore, powerfuels are proposed as coherent wording, to overcome the shortcomings of the other terminology.

Various possible powerfuel processes, end products and example applications.

Reasons for Powerfuels as missing link to reaching climate targets

Three pillars of the successful energy transition

Direct use of renewable energies (including electricity, but also biomass) and energy efficiency are important pillars of the energy transition. However, for some sectors and applications these pillars are insufficient to realise significant reduction of GHG emissions. Powerfuels have the potential to become the third pillar of the energy transition, not as substitute, but as complement to the other two pillars. Powerfuels will be the “missing link” to achieve net-zero global greenhouse gas emissions through a cost-efficient transition.



Powerfuels are game changers

Powerfuels are game changers for reaching climate targets due to following key reasons:

1. Powerfuels are climate-friendly solutions to applications with no viable alternatives.

2. Powerfuels can reduce the cost of energy transition by utilising existing infrastructures and they provide long-term storage options for renewable energies.

3. Powerfuels can utilise the worldwide renewable energy production potentials as they can be transported and traded globally.

4. Powerfuels could defossilise existing consumer end-use equipment as green drop-in alternative to fossils.