Institute for Technology Assessment and  Systems Analysis (ITAS)

P2X-2: Research, validation and implementation of “Power-to-X” concepts – Subproject Roadmapping/LCA and LCC

Project description

Against the background of the almost undeniable human contribution to global warming and the resulting urgent need to reduce fossil CO2 emissions while simultaneously phasing out nuclear power, conventional efficiency measures are far from sufficient to reconcile climate protection and our usual lifestyle. To achieve this at least in part – keeping in mind that people in poorer regions of the world want to reach our lifestyle first and only then protect the climate – a comprehensive “energy transition” is necessary. Hence, the aim of the overall project is to support the energy transition pursued by the German government by providing so-called Power-to-X technologies. The corresponding concepts use electricity for electrolysis of water and/or CO2 to produce hydrogen, synthesis gas, or other substances, which are then either used directly as energy carriers or further chemically converted (e.g., into synthetic liquid fuels). Besides the fundamental goal of CO2-free production of fuels and chemicals, these technologies are to serve the efficient use of the supply of fluctuating electrical energy, in particular from wind power and photovoltaic, which would otherwise have to be curtailed.

Applications for chemical and fuel synthesis are examined in the technical subprojects. In one of these subprojects, new modular synthesis technologies for an integrated plant for decentralized Fischer-Tropsch fuel synthesis from carbon dioxide and water vapor from the atmosphere and renewable electrical energy are being developed at the Institute for Micro Process Engineering (IMVT) of KIT and built as a variable container unit.

In the subproject “Roadmapping”, sustainability aspects are examined with the participation of, among others, ITAS. According to a common concept, sustainability assessments should cover three dimensions of the analyzed systems: the ecological, the economic, and the social. A standard approach to assessing environmental aspects and costs of technologies is to apply life cycle-based methods. This means that not only the central processes but also the upstream and downstream processes are considered, i.e., not only the operation of a plant but also its construction, including material production, manufacturing expenditures, etc.

The aim of the ITAS subproject is to provide the project partners with the system-analytical information needed for the efficient and sustainable implementation of their PTX concept. The technical focus of the work at ITAS is on modular plants for the decentralized production of Fischer-Tropsch fuels. In terms of content, the focus is on assessing the environmental characteristics and costs using life cycle-based methods (LCA, LCC). The analyses integrate R&D and are performed in close cooperation with the technical partners.

Research questions are

  • the positioning of the technologies to be developed in comparison to a fossil reference technology and to innovative competing concepts in order to define benchmarks, and
  • the identification of weak points to optimize the concept and achieve the objectives.

The societal dimension is assessed based on the acceptance of the technologies. The cost and environmental assessments form a substantial part of the information basis for the acceptance assessment by IZES.

Besides other roadmap elements such as potential analyses, the sustainability assessment with its three dimensions is a main criterion for further R&D orientation in P2X-3.


Dr. Andreas Patyk
Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT)
Institute for Technology Assessment and Systems Analysis (ITAS)
P.O. Box 3640
76021 Karlsruhe

Tel.: +49 721 608-24606