Storing power generated by strong winds or bright sunshine by turning it into liquid fuel such as methanol can help to ensure green energy does not go to waste, without having to rely on batteries. Methanol can be made from CO2 captured from industrial sources, combined with hydrogen split out of water using surplus renewable energy. And the resulting fuel can be used in cars or ships, reducing the use of fossil fuels as well as emissions of greenhouse gases.
‘We are … transforming renewable energy into a liquid fuel that can be used in standard internal combustion engines,’ said David Cuesta, of the Spanish energy consultancy i-deals. ‘In the end you are taking a standard vehicle, and somehow, you are “electrifying” it,’ he added. Cuesta coordinated the MefCO2 project, which showed how industry can play a role in conserving renewable energy as it is produced and help to absorb some of the fluctuations inherent in sustainable energy production. The project used carbon capture technology at a coal-fired power plant in Germany to demonstrate the process, storing some of the emissions as methanol.
Reproducing the process at scale could also help to reduce EU imports of methanol, which is easily stored and transported but currently produced from fossil raw materials. In addition to its use as fuel, methanol is a feedstock with widespread use in the chemical industry.
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