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Molecules – The Eurogas Newsletter (January 2020)

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2020 got off to a busy start with activities from both the European institutions and Eurogas. We with partnered with the Institute of Energy for South East Europe for an event about evolving energy markets in their region. Keynote speaker MEP Maria Spyraki outlined the importance of gaseous fuels for the energy transition, in particular in the Balkans where coal remains a prevalent source for heat and power. The well attended event explored numerous issues going beyond the region and including the impact of the European Green Deal, which is now central to energy discussions.

There is much anticipation of what this mandate will bring, but for Eurogas one of the most important issues is the EU methane strategy. Eurogas recently joined the Methane Guiding Principles, under the personal conviction of our President Philippe Sauquet. This cross-sector initiative includes companies, associations, the UN, the World Bank, academia, civil society and policymakers. Nicolas Jensen, our newly promoted Senior Policy Advisor (congratulations!), covers this in more depth below, but it is important to point out that we and our members take the issue seriously and are working with partners to reduce methane emissions to the lowest possible levels.

Eurogas also joined the LNG Protocol recently, this important platform includes players active in LNG in Europe and beyond. President von der Leyen has asked Commissioner Simson to explore the opportunities LNG offers, and these were discussed at this month’s launch event. Participants agreed that LNG will be vital in switching from oil in heavy goods vehicles and in maritime and long-distance transport, while ensuring affordability and security of supply. My colleague Felicia Mester outlines more about the LNG Protocol in her article below. Let’s not forget that LNG engines are made here in Europe, with the technical input of and huge investments by European champions like Wartsila in Finland.

In Eurogas we fully support the idea of the industrial strategy building European energy transition champions. Europe leads in the production of the technologies needed to decarbonise gas – anaerobic digestors, electrolysers, CCS equipment, hydrogen ready turbines and boilers, as well as LNG engine technologies. Eurogas works with our partners IndustriALL and EPSU in the European Commission hosted sectoral social dialogues to develop policies that will leverage this leadership and provide quality manufacturing jobs. Fiona Dubernet who drives this work with the trade unions elaborates below, but needless to say it is not about saving jobs but creating new ones that will deliver public support and acceptance for the massive transition that we are embarking on.

All that remains for me to do is to wish you an enjoyable read and of course to encourage you to join us at our new office inauguration on 19th February at 18:00! It will be a cordial and relaxed networking event, with brief speeches from our President, Philippe Sauquet, along with the European Commission Head of Renewables and CCS, Paula Abreu Marques and our dear co-locator and friend, NGVAs Secretary General Andrea Gerini. Looking forward to seeing you there!

James Watson
Eurogas Secretary General

 

We spoke to people on the streets of Brussels to understand their opinions on home heating in the context of climate change.

This month Eurogas became a supporter of the Methane Guiding Principles, a voluntary partnership of industry and civil society working to reduce methane emissions across the natural gas supply chain. Doing so will be a matter of improving data accuracy and availability while measuring and reducing methane emissions from the point of extraction through 2.2 million kilometres of European transmission and distribution pipelines.

From smarter grids to drones, technology increasingly offers ways to help achieve this. These solutions will reinforce DSO’s leak detection and repair capabilities as part of their constant service of ensuring safe operations. That being said, protests related to smart solutions and data capture suggest opposition is possible. This could be exacerbated if associated costs are incurred by consumers.

As with every aspect of the energy transition, citizens expectations must to be factored in when it comes to changes to infrastructure, pricing and appliances. The Eurogas poll results show people want to help tackle climate change but making changes to their home heating system is not a step most want to take. On the other hand, the results also show that costs savings and information about concerns would encourage them to make the switch. This demonstrates the need for a holistic assessment of how regulation should evolve.

In the coming months the European Commission will launch an action plan on tackling methane emissions along the value chain. This strategy could help bring gas a step further in fulfilling its potential to decarbonise power generation, industry, transport and heating. Along with other Methane Guiding Principles participants, Eurogas is committed to steps which would improve data availability at distribution level and ensure best practice in leak detection and repair training among DSOs.

LNG makes a strong contribution to the energy transition through diversifying supplies, delivering flexibility, reducing carbon dioxide emissions from ships and improving air quality. These were the key messages of the LNG Protocol conference co-organised by GasNaturally and the Florence School of Regulation. The well-attended event gathered participants from across the energy sector, including representatives from industry, regulators, think-tanks and academia.

According to the IEA, LNG is becoming the driving force for global gas trade and has reduced gas prices on the European spot markets. This is driving a significant coal-to-gas switch in power generation and hence considerable emissions savings. The conference participants agreed that LNG is an available and affordable fuel with strong potential to contribute to the EU’s carbon neutrality goals.

LNG Protocol is an informal communication platform aimed at driving the LNG industry forward. The platform supports sharing best practices and new technologies related to LNG.

As the EU embarks on its journey to carbon neutrality, concern is growing that some people could be left behind. This risk has been acknowledged by European Commission Vice President Frans Timmermans who presented a proposal for a Just Transition Fund earlier this month. While the Just Transition fund takes a geographical approach, Eurogas believes that a sector-specific one is necessary to understand and address the challenges ahead.

To this end, Eurogas is reviving the European Social Dialogue on Gas, with trade unions in the sector. This dialogue comes at the perfect time to ensure that the voices of workers in the energy industry are heard in Brussels. Last Tuesday saw the social partners hold their first working party. The session kicked off with a presentation by Navigant Energy who recently published a study showing that increasing renewable gases in the EU will create up to 800,000 direct and 1.5 million indirect sustainable jobs that cannot be outsourced.

The social partners also had the opportunity to discuss the European Green Deal with a Commission representative and plan for a joint study on employment opportunities and skills needed for the sector to achieve its transition.

Eurogas hopes that the cooperation it has fostered between employers and employees will complement the work of the Commission on the Just Transition Mechanism and help ensure that the gas sector thrives on the road to 2050.