Electricity and renewable gas can be a perfect combination to decarbonize energy systems. To achieve a 100% reduction in greenhouse gases, large amounts of renewable electricity are required, although the most efficient way to do so is to combine this electricity with renewable gases such as hydrogen and biomethane.
Renewable gas has multiple advantages: it adds value in building heating systems, in the generation of high temperature heat for industry and in heavy transport and provides flexibility in electricity production based on wind and solar energy.
In addition, its implementation does not require large investments. In this sense, the existing gas infrastructures are indispensable, since they can be used to transport hydrogen and biomethane.
For the president of Enagás , Antonio Llardén , “the gases of renewable origin constitute a new energy solution that will have a key role in the process of decarbonization. And it will be without major investments, because Spain has a network of gas infrastructure fully operational for storage and transport. ”
A recent report by the European association Gas for Climate states that the use of around 2,900 TWh, around 270 bcm of renewable methane and hydrogen, combined with renewable electricity, represents a saving of 217,000 million euros in the entire European energy system in comparison with a scenario of minimal presence of gas.
Currently, only about 4% of the gas consumed in the European Union is renewable. However, the future prospects are positive: the vast majority of EU countries give renewable gases a large role in their National Energy and Climate Plans.
In Spain, for example, the Government wants to promote, through the approval of specific plans, the penetration of renewable gas, including biomethane, hydrogen and other fuels whose production has been exclusively used raw materials and renewable energy, as stated in the National Energy and Climate Plan.
To this end, the Government will carry out a thorough analysis of the current situation and from it it will begin to take decisions. In this way, the plan shows the following path to develop renewable gases:
1.- Determination of theoretical, technical and economic production potential.
2.- Definition of a strategy to determine the most efficient use and the most effective way to focus on the use of this resource.
3.- Design of support mechanisms to maximize the use of renewable gas, supported if necessary in a certification system that allows the supervision and control of obligations, as well as flexibility mechanisms that favor maximum efficiency in achieving of the objectives. Without ruling out regulations that allow the injection of said renewable gases into the current natural gas network.
Companies are also working in this field. For example, in Spain, Enagás is promoting biomethane and hydrogen initiatives and has signed 14 agreements with companies such as Redexis, Repsol, Ferrovial, Ence, Sacyr, etc. to develop projects of these renewable gases. It has also done so with public bodies, such as the Government of Aragon or the Principality of Asturias.
These agreements are part of its strategy to contribute to decarbonisation. In the Strategic Update 2019-2023, presented last March, the company has included as one of the main areas of growth for the coming years the promotion of new businesses related to the challenges of the energy transition, such as renewable gases .
All this institutional and business commitment is essential to achieve the definitive boost of renewable gases that, together with renewable electricity, can be key to combating climate change.