Gas infrastructure is a key enabler for the energy transition
15 December 2020
Today, TEN-E Regulation brings the EU one step closer to decarbonisation. Being fit for transporting offshore energy and renewable gases, GIE members are ready to support the European Commission's efforts to deliver the EU Green Deal objectives, both at an environmental and economic level.
The EU gas infrastructure can set the EU on track to climate and technological leadership while fostering the social and territorial cohesion as it offers affordable and sustainable solutions. Building on the complementarity that exists between electricity and gas, TEN-E regulation is one of the fundamental tools to establish a well-integrated energy system. To allow gas and electricity integration challenges to be overcome, it is essential to keep a technology-neutral approach and an equal playing field for both energy vectors. Furthermore, a full life cycle analysis of all sources and vectors of energy should also be considered to avoid preferential treatments.
“To deliver the ultimate decarbonisation goal, a future-proof solution is needed. And the gas infrastructure remains a pillar component of such an action plan. Today, we are already teaming up with the wind and solar power generation. By doing so, we will massively contribute to accelerating the deployment of renewable hydrogen in the soon future thanks to our technical capacities and ability to innovate.”
Boyana Achovski, GIE Secretary General stated.
Indeed, the gas transmission system can transport enormous quantities of green molecules over long distances with relatively few additional investments. Underground gas storage facilities can provide large seasonal storage of renewable and low-carbon energy, including hydrogen: salt caverns, with some retrofitting, are suited for pure hydrogen, and the current assessment on the potential of depleted gas fields is showing potential. Imports of liquid hydrogen through the LNG terminals will be necessary to complement domestic hydrogen production in a similar way to natural gas imports today. They will enhance security of supply through source and route diversification and secure access to global and competitive hydrogen.
To establish the future-proof and decarbonised energy system, the revision of TEN-E Regulation should acknowledge the role of the gas infrastructure in:
➟ fostering the social and territorial cohesion between regions:
Switching from intensive fuels to natural gas enables immediate CO2 emissions reduction while offering an affordable solution to the EU. Moreover, it massively supports the decarbonises hard-to-abate sectors such as heating while proving the necessary security of supply to back up the deployment of renewable energy sources. Last but not least, natural gas also ensures a fair and inclusive solution which considers the multiple pathways of the regions.
➟ enhancing the development of the renewables:
Gas infrastructure operators are actively addressing the challenges of the energy transition and are committed to decarbonising EU’s energy system. They will be key in supporting the development of the hydrogen market. In this regard, renewable and low-carbon gas infrastructure projects to be considered eligible for Projects of Common Interest (PCIs).
➟ ensuring the security of supply:
Gas infrastructure investments between a third country and an EU Member State are pivotal elements of the market integration. It is also crucial to setting stability to the European energy sector and Member States’ economies.
Here are concrete examples of how the gas infrastructure is a key lever of the energy transition:
➟ The role of gas storage in storing large volumes of hydrogen, thus in ensuring the security of supply while enhancing the hydrogen market:
Gas storage facilities are the foundation of a robust and resilient energy system. They bring the necessary flexibility to allow an increasing share of intermittent renewables to integrate our energy system. They can stock sustainable energy at large-scale, thereby ensuring the security of supply through physical availability of gas, reducing congestion and over-investment of new power transmission lines in the electric system. Given that electricity storage solutions are either limited in scale or only suited for short-term storage, gas storages remain the only affordable large-scale technical solution to meet the seasonal storage needs compared to the other storage technologies.
➟The role of the LNG terminals in decarbonising the EU:
In order to achieve climate neutrality by 2050, Europe may need to import renewable energy from outside Europe. LNG terminals could become the entry gateways to Europe. Multiple pathways to decarbonise LNG terminals are possible, e.g. using hydrogen carriers, biogas, biomethane, e-fuels. Moreover, it might also be possible that LNG receiving terminals can be adapted to export energy (e.g. with hydrogen-based carriers) from EU territories with large renewable energy potential. A revision of TEN-E should support the adaptation of LNG terminals.
Gas Infrastructure Europe (GIE) is the European association of gas infrastructure operators. GIE members are active in transmission pipelines, storage facilities and LNG terminals. With 70 industry members from 26 European countries, GIE perfectly embodies the multiple transitional decarbonization pathways of the EU regions.