Renewable gas can be a strong force in Europe's energy transition

Written by Beate Raabe on 14 June 2017 in Thought Leader
Thought Leader

Renewable gas can be a strong force in Europe's energy transition, writes Beate Raabe.

Beate Raabe | Photo credit: Eurogas


A topic for the Clean Energy Package and during this year's EU Sustainable Energy Week, renewable gas is increasingly attracting attention and it is gaining momentum. Renewable gas is following in the footsteps of renewable electricity. As it has the potential to rival renewable electricity, it is making some of its electric competitors nervous, but it also offers a helping hand. 

For example, like natural gas, it can provide electricity backup to variable renewable sources, such as the sun and wind, and can play the same role in heating when electric heat pumps become inefficient at lower temperatures.

And looking at long-term storage issues, when there is grid curtailment, electricity production from wind or solar can continue to split water into its hydrogen and oxygen components.


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A certain amount of hydrogen can be directly injected into the gas grid without jeopardising the safe use of gas, or the hydrogen can be merged with CO2 to form synthetic methane and then be injected.

It also saves wind farms production losses during the time it takes to become fully operational again after grid curtailment.

Combining electricity and gas grids is the best way to create a secure, competitive and sustainable low-carbon energy system. It isn't difficult to imagine energy customers being able to choose between renewables-based electricity or gas, selecting whichever is cheaper at a certain time of the day. 

Practically this could, for example, be the choice between running your electric heat pump or your gas condensing boiler. You would have both and save the space and costs of a large heat pump.

Biogas is also a renewable gas. This can be used as such with all its impurities, for example in local combined heat and power applications, or it can be upgraded to bio-methane and injected into the gas grid. 

It can come from a wide range of sources, such as municipal waste, landfills, sewage treatment plants, agricultural residues, livestock waste and more. 

Each of these processes is innovative and has strong potential. Unlike renewable electricity, it doesn't require much grid reinforcement or new storage facilities.

The EU Sustainable Energy Week is an excellent opportunity to demonstrate the strengths of renewable gas. 

At Eurogas we are doing so together with eight other associations that take an active interest in the development of renewable gas and represent a broad base of local, regional, national, and international companies.

 

About the author

Beate Raabe is Secretary General of Eurogas

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