The ‘clean energy for all Europeans’ package, published just weeks after the Paris agreement entered into force, is an important piece in the legislative framework needed to achieve the EU and global climate targets in an energy union.
Gas provides several important solutions to the many challenges tackled in the package. Be it electricity market design, energy efficiency, renewables or the energy performance of buildings, natural and renewable gas hold the key to cost effective solutions.
By simply using natural gas instead of coal in power generation, CO2 emissions can be halved instantly. Gas is used as an important backup for an increasing share of electricity from renewables as it provides the much-needed flexibility to support the variability of certain renewable energy sources.
Furthermore, the combined effect of electricity production from gas and the heat from the process also leads to more energy being put to good use, or in other words up to 90 per cent efficiency. There are clear opportunities in enhanced gas use.
As regards electricity market design, an emissions performance standard for capacity mechanisms is principally good news for the climate and for gas.
Most retail issues raised in the so-called “winter package”, such as consumer rights and empowerment, smart metering, data handling and dynamic pricing as well as distribution, are the same as or link directly with gas, which is why both sectors need to be discussed in parallel.
At Eurogas, we look forward to key technologies – which form an interface between electricity and gas and are vital for a well-functioning energy system – being considered in the upcoming debate. Power-to-gas, for example, can transform excess electricity from wind or solar sources into synthetic gas, which is stored or transported in the gas system.
Fuel cells and micro-CHP are ideal in addressing periods when electricity from variable renewable sources is scarce and electricity prices are high. Locally produced biogas and bio methane can also play their role.
The proposals on the energy efficiency directive that member states reduce their primary energy factor (PEF) for electricity from 2.5 to 2.0, could divert from the immediately available low-hanging fruit and lead to electrification without any real environmental benefits.
The PEF should reflect the actual conversion efficiency of the electricity system and not be based on future scenarios. Care needs to be taken that gas with its high efficiency and renewable potential is treated equitably with renewable electricity.
Turning to the renewable energy directive, we welcome the proposal for greater recognition that gas can be renewable.
Due to the potential risk of market distortion, we have advocated a very prudent approach to renewables support schemes. However, where these are granted to electricity from renewables, this must also be the case for renewable gas.
Overall, the Commission’s proposals are a significant step in the right direction. Fully reflecting the potential for gas will ensure that the energy transition is secure, competitive and sustainable.