Germany’s energy transition, known as ‘Energiewende’, was always very progressive. However, it came technically to a halt at the question of large-scale, seasonal energy storage for wind and solar, which was not available. At the end of the 2000s, we combined our knowledge of both electrical and process engineering, imitated nature by copying photosynthesis and developed Power-to-Gas by combining water electrolysis with CO2
-methanation to convert water and CO2
together with wind and solar power to synthetic natural gas. Storing green energy by coupling the electricity with the gas sector using its vast TWh-scale storage facility was the solution for the biggest energy problem of our time. This was the first concept that created the term ‘sector coupling’ or ‘sectoral integration’. We first implemented demo sites, presented our work in research, industry and ministries, and applied it in many macroeconomic studies. It was an initial idea that inspired others to rethink electricity as well as eFuels as an energy source and energy carrier. We developed the concept further to include Power-to-Liquid, Power-to-Chemicals and other ways to ‘convert’ electricity into molecules and climate-neutral feedstocks, and named it ‘Power-to-X’at the beginning of the 2010s.
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