“The technology is there and the industry is ready, but there is still a lot to do on the regulatory side,” was the conclusion of Peter Metzinger, Co-Managing Director of the Swiss Power-to-X Collaborative Innovation Network SPIN, at yesterday’s Power-to-X Showcase Event at GETEC PARK.SWISS in Muttenz. Power-to-X is the conversion of renewable energy into synthetic, chemical energy carriers such as fuels and heating fuels. The event, which was opened by SPIN Co-President Prof Markus Friedl (Eastern Switzerland University of Applied Sciences, OST) and hosts Alexander Makarenko and Arthur Gebhardt from GETEC, offered insights into innovative technologies and concepts based on a fully circular economy and CO2 neutrality. Around 70 Swiss Power-to-X stakeholders from industry, research, administration and politics accepted the invitation and exchanged views on pressing issues relating to the further development of Power-to-X technologies.

Sustainable energy future through Power-to-X

The event highlighted the promising possibilities of Power-to-X, a technology that converts renewable energy into synthetic chemical energy carriers. These energy sources can be used in various applications, from mobility to industry. Switzerland plays an important role in this area and the participants at the event agreed that Power-to-X is key to achieving a sustainable energy future.

GETEC PARK.SWISS: Circular economy and CO2 utilisation

GETEC PARK.SWISS is planning to set up a chemical production facility in the Muttenz Industrial Park based on the principles of infrastructure-as-a-service and the circular economy, ranging from CO2 utilisation to the production of chemical energy sources. The site already has closed loops for the reutilisation of waste from the chemical industry, including solvents. A Carbon Capture & Utilisation study in collaboration with the University of Applied Sciences Northwestern Switzerland has shown that the problem is not the filtering of CO2, but the question of how it can be used effectively. GETEC has all the prerequisites to operate a Power-to-X plant, but the start of production depends on the right political framework conditions.

Methanol: a key to sustainability

In his presentation, Albrecht Tribukait, CEO of Silent Power, emphasised the importance of methanol for a sustainable and CO2-neutral energy future. He emphasised the stability of the price of methanol in comparison to the strongly fluctuating oil prices and called for increased awareness of the advantages and possibilities of methanol. A provisional installation of a Silent-Power methanol micro turbine, which can replace fossil fuelled heating systems with methanol, was shown on the GETEC site.

Photo by Silent-Power

The following guided tour through the industrial park was unforgettable, not only because of the rain.

Innovation in the aviation industry

Florian Kiefer from EMPA, Kolja Kindler from EPFL and Melanie Heiniger from SWISS gave an overview of the current status of CO2-neutral aviation. The refuel.ch consortium – Renewable Fuels and Chemicals for Switzerland – will begin its work on 1 January and aims to develop a robust production pathway for renewable fuels and chemicals. This also includes the development of a strategy for a good mix between self-sufficiency and production abroad. Methanol is seen as a key chemical from which all other fuels can be produced. The aviation industry would like to do more than current regulation allows. Cooperation with startups like Synhelion can only be successful if regulatory obstacles can be removed. All in all Swiss efforts towards a CO2-neutral aviation are comprehensive and promising.

Conclusion: Regulatory improvements are essential

The discussions in the workshops emphasised the urgency of a comprehensive transformation towards renewable energies and renewable chemicals in order to achieve the climate targets. The participants emphasised the importance of flexible and conscious regulation as well as closer cooperation between industry, science and politics in order to achieve these ambitious goals.

The event was sponsored by GETEC PARK.SWISS AG, Axpo Solutions AG, AlphaSYNT, amag, Pilatus Aircraft Ltd and Silent-Power AG. The future of sustainable energy is just around the corner, but clear political support and regulation is needed to roll out the technology on a broad scale and realise the vision of a sustainable energy future.