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    EU pipeline operators expect hydrogen, biogas role


Hydrogen and biogas will play a big role in the decarbonisation of Europe.

by: William Powell

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EU pipeline operators expect hydrogen, biogas role

Gas Infrastructure Europe (GIE) has welcomed the adoption of the European Commission's ‘Fit for 55’ package, intended to put in place the necessary policies to enable the EU's planned net zero carbon emissions target date of 2050. The package was launched July 13 by top commissioners including Ursula von de Leyen, the Green Deal supremo Frans Timmermans and energy commissioner Kadri Simson.

The first landmark is a 55% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions by 2030, which the storage, pipeline and LNG infrastructure operators group says intends to set the EU on track towards a climate-neutral and technical leadership. But GIE says the EC should take a technology-neutral approach to this ambition and that the policy framework will be challenging for policy-makers.

Their work will be easier says GIE if they take advantage of the "significant contribution" gas infrastructure can make to the realisation of climate neutrality. It says gas infrastructure operators "are already playing and will keep playing a central role in the regional approach, guaranteeing the security of supply and ensuring affordable energy for all citizens and industries. They are furthermore an ally in the development of the renewable and low-carbon technologies."

President Torben Brabo said the switch to hydrogen is "a strong lever for decarbonisation" and a "more integrated and digital energy system is around the corner. And we look forward to integrating more and more low-carbon and renewable molecules into our existing facilities."

While converting the natural gas infrastructure to carry hydrogen will bring cost savings, it is not certain that the same transmission system operators (TSOs) will be allowed to remain the operators of the new pipelines. The EU regulatory body Association for the Co-operation of Energy regulators (ACER) is in favour of unbundling the TSOs' accounts to avoid cross-subsidies that could be a barrier to entry and it is working on a White Paper on that topic

Pleas for the EC to take a technology-neutral approach have fallen on deaf ears in transport, where electrons are considered cleaner than natural gas, regardless of where the vehicle is charged. Norway is about 95% renewable energy while other countries' grids – such as Germany and Poland – rely heavily on lignite or coal.