German industry eyes massive imports of ‘solar fuels’ from Australia

(EurActiv, 28 Feb 2019) Huge amounts of synthetic fuels generated from renewable energies will be required to fully decarbonise the German economy, according to industry association BDI, which eyes yearly imports of 340 terawatt hours (TW/h) by 2050 – the equivalent of Germany’s entire power fleet.

“For ambitious climate and energy targets, we will need Power-to-X in significant amounts,” said Carsten Rolle, executive director at the World Energy Council Germany, and head of energy and climate policy at BDI, the German industry association.

Power-to-X is a broad term referring to the transformation of electricity into synthetic gases – such as hydrogen, methane or other gases and liquids, according to the European Commission.

“Probably the most powerful driver will be the transport sector,” Rolle told journalists during a visit to Brussels last week, saying the heaviest users of synthetic fuels are expected in aviation and shipping, where electrification is not yet feasible, especially for long distances.

Under EU projections, low-carbon electricity from renewables and nuclear should cover just over half of Europe’s total energy demand by 2050, which leaves more than 40% for liquid fuels and other types of green gases, such as hydrogen.

Those technologies “become attractive in the context of abundant electricity generated from carbon-free sources” such as wind, solar and nuclear power, the Commission said in its energy policy scenarios for 2050, published in November.

But it is the import figures that BDI has in mind, which are truly eye-popping. Those are contained in a report for the World Energy Council Germany, published in October last year, which Rolle helped oversee.

In Germany, one of the scenarios BDI identified for 2050 points to “an import demand of 340 terawatt hours (TW/h) of efuels”, Rolle said.

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EurActiv, 28 Feb 2019: German industry eyes massive imports of ‘solar fuels’ from Australia