The role of gas in Europe’s future energy mix and the transition to zero carbon of Europe’s power sector
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The transition towards a net zero greenhouse gas economy puts the power sector in the spotlight. While the carbon intensity of power across the EU has fallen significantly, the situation in Europe is diverse and this pace must increase. The clean energy transition should result in an energy system where primary energy supply would largely come from carbon free sources.
The lower carbon intensity of natural gas – which produces half the emissions of coal when burned in power plants – and the emergence of new technologies like hydrogen are setting gas apart from other fossil fuels in the clean energy transition.
Some stakeholders argue that a partnership between renewables and gas is key because renewable power sources like wind and solar are dependent on external factors such as weather. In 2019, gas made a significant contribution to decarbonisation, together with renewables. The power sector’s CO2 emissions declined at record speed – by 12%, according to climate think tanks Agora Energiewende and Sandbag.
Gas infrastructure also plays an important role in offering sustainable and cost-effective solutions in transmission, storage and LNG terminals. As explained by Commission Executive Vice-President Timmermans, it is a valuable asset for the development of the hydrogen value chain and market across EU regions. Aware that innovation will be one of the driving forces of the energy transition, gas operators are taking action in initiating a number of innovative projects in Europe.
But climate campaigners remain suspicious of gas. The debate isn’t just an academic one. Whether or not gas infrastructure is deemed to be part of the green energy transition will determine whether it is eligible for EU funding, which now has to be compatible with the EU Green Deal.
Can gas, whether renewable or abated through CCS, be the optimal complementary energy technology to balance intermittent renewable electricity such as wind and solar in the coming decades? And how can we ensure enough funding for the different technologies for decarbonisation? Join this EURACTIV debate to discuss the role of gas and gas infrastructure in Europe’s future energy mix and the transition to zero carbon of Europe’s power sector.
Ditte Juul Jørgensen, Director General, DG ENER, European Commission
Maria Spyraki MEP, Member of ENVI and ITRE Committees, European Parliament
Jan Ingwersen, General Director, ENTSO-G
Martin O'Neill, Vice President of Product Management, GE Gas Power
Jonathan Stern, Distinguished Research Fellow, Gas Research Programme, The Oxford Institute for Energy Studies
Frédéric Simon, Energy and Environment Editor, EURACTIV
14:30 -14:35 Welcome
14:35 - 14:55 Keynote speech & short Q&A with moderator
14:55 - 15:00 White paper presentation
15:00 - 15:10 Panellists’ statements
15:10 - 15:40 Discussion and Q&A
15:40 - 15:45 Closing statements
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While fossil gas is often seen as a transition fuel towards a fully decarbonised energy mix, GE Gas Power sees low-carbon gas as “a destination technology” with a potential to convert power plants to run 100% on clean hydrogen by 2030.