Power-to-gas and power-to-liquid for managing renewable electricity intermittency in the Alpine Region

Highlights

BeWhere, a MILP optimization model, simulates energy systems in the Alpine Region.

Power-to-gas and power-to-liquid enable large scale integration of renewables.

Power-to-gas and power-to-liquid allow decarbonizing diverse CO2–emitting sectors.

Scenarios pertaining to the impact of carbon policy and fossil prices investigated.

Abstract

Large-scale deployment of renewable energy sources (RES) plays a central role in reducing CO2 emissions from energy supply systems, but intermittency from solar and wind technologies presents integration challenges. High temperature co-electrolysis of steam and CO2 in power-to-gas (PtG) and power-to-liquid (PtL) configurations could utilize excess intermittent electricity by converting it into chemical fuels. These can then be directly consumed in other sectors, such as transportation and heating, or used as power storage. Here, we investigate the impact of carbon policy and fossil fuel prices on the economic and engineering potential of PtG and PtL systems as storage for intermittent renewable electricity and as a source of low-carbon heating and transportation energy in the Alpine region. We employ a spatially and temporally explicit optimization approach of RES, PtG, PtL and fossil technologies in the electricity, heating, and transportation sectors, using the BeWhere model. Results indicate that large-scale deployment of PtG and PtL technologies for producing chemical fuels from excess intermittent electricity is feasible, particularly when incentivized by carbon prices. Depending on carbon and fossil fuel price, 0.15–15 million tonnes/year of captured CO2 can be used in the synthesis of the chemical fuels, displacing up to 11% of current fossil fuel use in transportation. By providing a physical link between the electricity, transportation, and heating sectors, PtG and PtL technologies can enable greater integration of RES into the energy supply chain globally.

Keywords

  • Renewable energy;
  • Power-to-gas;
  • Power-to-liquid;
  • Energy systems optimization;
  • Spatial and temporal modeling

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