Policy Priority: External Relations

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Ensuring smart sector integration

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The unique features of both gas and electricity energy systems can be complementary to each other and can contribute towards developing cost-efficient technological solutions.

Historically, sector coupling has allowed for gas to power flexibility in ensuring a secure and stable energy system. With the increasing development of local intermittent renewable power production, power-to-gas technologies allow for safe and secure long-term storage of energy across seasons.

Increasing decentralisation in both electricity and gas will require a greater voice for the distribution system operators in planning and market coordination of decentralised sources.

Eurogas supports smart sector integration for gas decarbonisation including joint gas and electricity infrastructure planning and mainstreaming smart sector integration in EU policy. In a broader perspective, smart sector integration should cover the interaction of energy vectors, notably gas, power and heat, with end-user sectors, notably industry, residential, mobility and agriculture.

Smart sector integration must be driven by commercial choices and enabled by joint electricity and gas network development plans at national and EU level, i.e. a sound and transparent TYNDP process. It should also guide the upcoming decarbonisation strategies. It should recognise the potential of power-to-gas for fully exploiting the EU’s renewable energy potential.

Phasing out coal and oil heating and replacing it with efficient gas appliances is a no-regrets approach to decarbonising heating. Gas condensing boilers can bring immediate emissions reductions and air quality improvements.

These appliances then enable further decarbonisation of heating thanks to renewable and decarbonised gases injected in the grid. All the efficient gas appliances already are compatible with biomethane, and many of these appliances on the market can already work with a mix of natural gas and hydrogen.

With innovations like power-to-gas, CCS, anaerobic digestors, electrolysers and pyrolysis, the gas sector can help the EU decarbonise the heating sector, which is responsible for more than a third of CO2 emissions today.

Gas is an essential element of low-carbon mobility: clean combustion and low CO2 emissions contribute to improving air quality, the technology is mature and available.

Emissions reductions in road and maritime transport can be achieved by switching to natural gas, hydrogen and biomethane in liquid (LNG) or gaseous form (CNG). A technology-neutral approach to decarbonising transport, focused on lifecycle considerations is required to achieve low-emissions mobility in the most cost-effective way.

The gas industry is a strategic partner to decarbonising the European energy intensive industries producing steel, paper and chemicals. About one third of their energy consumption relies on gas due to its efficiency and affordability. Renewable and decarbonised gases have particularly strong advantages in enabling industry to decarbonise their energy-intensive power, heat and chemical processes.

Gas can help avoid methane emissions in sectors such as agriculture, for instance through improved manure management for biogas production. Avoiding these emissions and injecting purified methane allows up to 206% reduction of GHG emissions compared to a fossil fuel.

By-products from biogas production displace chemical fertilisers and biogas can help to improve soil quality and productivity through intermediate and cover crops.

Technological innovation brings changes to the gas value chain. It enables and facilitates smarter and more flexible gas networks, allowing for blending of new gases in the pipes. It contributes to sector coupling between gas and electricity grids by enhancing the productivity of the system.

Digitalisation will lead to more active energy customers and can also support more direct participation of citizens in managing energy, including through smarter appliances, smart meters, and smarter grids. It will be essential in the deployment of cost-efficient hybrid heating and will therefore allow more and more households to heat their home with renewable energy while preserving the security of their energy supply.