GD4S: Gas networks are critical to the EU’s energy transition

A new whitepaper has been released by Gas Distributors for Sustainability (GD4S) calling on EU institutions to consider all energy sources, including renewable gases, in facilitating the delivery of decarbonisation targets.

G4DS represents a group of natural gas distributors in France, Greece, Italy, Ireland, Spain, Portugal and Romania that collaborate to provide a unified voice on matters such as policy, decarbonisation strategy, market design and the future of gas.

The whitepaper highlights the role of DSOs in preventing climate change and emphasises the need for investments to ensure that gas grids are ready for clean energy sources, such as renewable gases including, in the longer term, hydrogen.

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In order to decarbonise Europe’s energy system, GD4S firmly believes that natural gas (during the transition period) and renewable gases (including biomethane and renewable hydrogen) will remain part of Europe’s energy mix. Gas can decrease greenhouse gas emissions, in particular in power generation, as it will gradually replace more carbon-intensive coal- and lignite-fired power generation.

The whitepaper, though a variety of policy recommendations, highlights three main areas of focus.

The paper begins by providing details on how to leverage the potential of renewable gases to reach climate neutrality. Renewable gases (biomethane, renewable hydrogen and synthetic methane) offer a robust solution to meeting the EU’s energy and climate objectives, with significantly reduced greenhouse gas emissions. The existing gas infrastructure can transport these new gases to different end users across the building, transport and industrial sectors, as well as others.

Secondly, the paper describes how to leverage gas grids as an asset for decarbonisation and sector integration. Sector coupling between gas and electricity sectors will optimise energy infrastructure, demonstrating that all technology options should be treated on an equal basis and evaluated in terms of their decarbonisation potential and their costs.

In addition, it details how a truly integrated energy system should maximise the existing distribution grid wherever possible, and deliver a decarbonised energy system at least cost and with least disruption to end users. Greater integration of renewable and low-emission energies, either in the form of electricity or gases, will result in an increasing weight of intermittent generation and necessitate the capacity to store and distribute the energy produced to consumption centres. Gas networks, due to their flexibility, are a key element to improve efficiency.

Finally, the paper outlines GD4S’ commitment to decarbonisation through methane emissions mitigation. The paper highlights how improving data quality, digitalisation of the network, enhancing leak detection and repair, and roll-out of renewable gases will all help to reduce methane emissions. It also outlines the policy and regulatory measures required to support DSOs’ efforts to reduce methane emissions.

The whitepaper is available for download.

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