Gas and its infrastructure are important today and continue to be important in 2050 by shifting towards renewable and low carbon gases to meet the Paris Agreement target of limiting global temperature rise to well below 2 degrees. Gas for Climate advocates a smart combination of electricity and gas in an integrated energy system to deliver an affordable transition to climate neutrality.
Gas is important for today’s energy system. Natural gas delivers on average around 25% of total energy consumption in Europe and its use ensures a flexible and reliable supply of electricity and heat. Today, gas supply is predominantly natural gas, but rapid developments in the field of biomethane and hydrogen production are bringing renewable and low carbon gas closer to large-scale application. In addition, biomethane can achieve negative greenhouse gas emissions when combined with carbon capture and storage.
The Gas for Climate consortium has undertaken several large studies that analyse the future role and value of gas and gas infrastructure.
- March 2019: ‘The optimal role for gas in a net zero emissions energy system’
- April 2020: ‘Gas decarbonisation pathways 202-2050’
- December 2021: ‘The future role of biomethane’
- March 2022: ‘Action plan for implementing REPowerEU’
The 2019 study assessed the cost optimal way to fully decarbonise the EU energy system by 2050 and to explore the role and value of gas and its infrastructure in achieving this goal. This was done by comparing a “minimal gas” scenario with an “optimised gas” scenario. Both the “optimised gas” scenario and the “minimal gas” scenario assume a net zero emissions EU energy system by 2050. The scenarios differ in the extent to which renewable and low carbon gas play a role in the scenarios. In the “optimised gas” scenario, renewable and low carbon gas can be used to its full potential, whereas in the “minimal gas” scenario, its use is limited to those sectors where no alternatives are available.
Using around 2,900 TWh of green hydrogen and renewable methane through existing gas infrastructure across the EU saves society over €200 billion annually by 2050 compared to an energy system using a minimal amount of gas.
This can be achieved by using cheap renewable electricity to produce hydrogen and by using waste, residues and sustainable crops to produce biomethane. Farmers in Italy and France started to apply innovative sequential cultivation practices to produce more biomass on existing agricultural land in a sustainable way.
The 2020 study develops gas decarbonisation pathways from 2020 to 2050, and identifies what investments and actions are needed across the energy system along the way. The central pathway in this study achieves the 2050 Optimised Gas end state, as analysed in the Gas for Climate 2019 study
The study analyses individual decarbonisation pathways for the demand side (buildings, industry, transport, power generation) that are matched with scale-up pathways for biomethane and hydrogen. The specific pathways are blended in three overall pathway scenarios that also include implications for gas infrastructure.
The 2021 study highlights the potential of biomethane in a low-carbon future. Biomethane can make a significant contribution to climate action in the European Union (EU). To achieve the 2030 goals of the European Commission’s Fit for 55 package, and the EU target to reach a net zero emissions economy by 2050, multiple climate solutions must be pursued in parallel.
The 2022 paper presents an Action Plan to rapidly implement the targets set out in the European Commission’s REPowerEU communication. The paper highlights immediate actions aimed at accelerated scale-up and integration of renewable gases in Europe. If implemented in full, these actions could positively impact Europe’s security of supply, speed up the implementation of climate goals and alleviate part of the energy cost pressure from households and companies.
Renewable and low carbon gas can play an important role to meet the Paris Agreement target”