Out-Law Guide Lesedauer: 3 Min.

Power-to-X technologies, e-fuels and their applications

‘Power-to-X,’ often abbreviated as ‘PtX’, is a term used to describe a set of exciting new technologies that convert electrical power, usually from renewable sources like solar or wind, into different types of energy or materials.

The ‘X’ in ‘Power-to-X’ can stand for various things like gas, liquid, heat, or chemicals, depending on what is being produced. In the event of a surplus of electricity generated from solar panels or wind turbines, for example, PtX technologies can put it to good use by transforming it into something that can be stored or used later.

PtX can also be used to create synthetic fuels, commonly known as ‘e-fuels’, using electricity generated from renewable sources to convert CO2 and water into hydrocarbons or other fuel molecules. E-fuels are considered a potential solution for reducing greenhouse gas emissions in industries where direct electrification or the use of conventional biofuels is challenging or impractical.

PtX has a number of potential applications, and can be used to change electricity into:

  • Power-to-Gas (PtG): This technology converts excess electricity into gases like hydrogen or methane. These e-fuel gases can be stored and used later to generate electricity again or even to power vehicles.
  • Power-to-Liquid (PtL): In this case, extra electricity is used to produce liquid e-fuels such as synthetic gasoline or diesel. These fuels can be used in existing engines or machinery.
  • Power-to-Heat (PtH): Here, the surplus electricity is turned into heat, which can be stored and then used for things like heating buildings or generating steam for industrial processes.
  • Power-to-Chemicals (PtC): This involves using the electrical energy to facilitate chemical reactions, creating valuable products like fertilizers or other industrial chemicals.

In these ways, PtX technologies and e-fuels can help make the most of renewable energy sources and reducing waste. However, there are challenges associated with e-fuel production, including energy efficiency concerns, high costs compared to conventional fuels, and the need for a consistent and abundant supply of renewable energy.

How industries are applying PtX technology

Despite these challenges, PtX technologies have already gained significant attention from companies across various industries due to their potential to address energy storage challenges, enable carbon-neutral processes, and contribute to a more sustainable energy ecosystem.

Energy companies

Many energy companies are investing in PtX technologies to better manage the intermittency of renewable energy sources like solar and wind. They are developing PtG systems to convert excess electricity into hydrogen or other gases that can be stored and used when demand is high.

Automotive and aerospace industry

Automotive companies are exploring PtX technologies to produce e-fuels like synthetic gasoline or diesel using renewable electricity. These fuels can be used in existing combustion engines, making transportation more environmentally friendly. Meanwhile, aerospace companies are looking at e-fuels alongside biofuels as a source of sustainable aviation fuel.

Research and development firms

Many research and development firms are actively working on improving the efficiency and scalability of PtX technologies, exploring new catalysts, materials, and process designs to make these technologies more cost-effective and practical.


PtX technologies are also likely to play an increasingly important role in the shipping industry's energy transition. Renewable electricity can be used to electrolyse water, for example, to produce hydrogen that can act as a clean fuel source for ships.

Hydrogen produced through PtX can also serve as a feedstock for the production of ammonia, which is considered a promising carbon-free fuel for shipping, and can be burned in internal combustion engines or used in fuel cells.

Global competition

In some countries, governments are already developing incentives and policies to encourage companies to invest in PtX technologies. This support can include grants, subsidies, tax incentives and regulatory frameworks that promote the adoption of PtX.


Germany is a global leader in PtX technologies, particularly in PtG and PtL applications. The country has been investing heavily in research and development, and it has several pilot projects and commercial installations that convert excess renewable energy into hydrogen and synthetic fuels.


Denmark has a strong focus on renewable energy and has been actively exploring PtX technologies. The country's wind energy surplus has driven interest in PtG projects, and Danish companies are involved in developing advanced electrolyser technologies.


Japan has shown significant interest in PtX technologies, especially hydrogen production through electrolysis. The Japanese government has set ambitious targets for hydrogen usage in various sectors, which has led to research, development, and pilot projects related to PtG.


Norway aims to leverage its extensive hydropower resources to produce green hydrogen for both domestic and export purposes. The country is also working on utilising PtX-produced hydrogen in its maritime and transport sectors.


China has made significant strides in PtX technologies, driven by its commitment to transitioning to cleaner energy sources. The country is also investing in hydrogen production, storage, and distribution infrastructure.

United States

PtX development in the US has been somewhat fragmented due to varying state and federal regulations and priorities. Nonetheless, there are research efforts and projects exploring PtG, PtL and other PtX technologies.

South Africa

South Africa has shown growing interest in PtX technologies, particularly in the context of its energy transition and efforts to address energy challenges, such as electricity generation, grid stability and greenhouse gas emissions. Power-to-Hydrogen (PtH) is a significant part of this vision, as the country has both the necessary renewable energy resources and established industrial infrastructure, which can be leveraged for hydrogen production through electrolysis.

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