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    EU Targets Two-Thirds Renewable Gas by 2050


Legislation needs tweaking to encourage the development of renewable and low carbon gases, the European Commission has said.

by: Joe Murphy

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EU Targets Two-Thirds Renewable Gas by 2050

The European Commission (EC) is consulting on changes to European Union (EU) gas law to expand the share of renewable and low-carbon gases to two-thirds of the gaseous fuel mix by 2050, it said in a document on February 11.

This would reduce the need for imports as the region becomes more self-sufficient over time.

The EC is working on a policy to support a "progressive phase-out" of unabated natural gas and its "gradual replacement" with biogas, bio-methane, renewable and decarbonised hydrogen, as well as synthetic methane. The remaining third of natural gas would be abated using carbon capture, use and storage (CCUS) technology.

"The reforms should enable fair competition between smart electrification, energy efficiency, and renewable and low-carbon gases like hydrogen and bio-methane, or CCUS technologies in achieving decarbonisation targets," the EC said.

The consultation will continue in March 10, ahead of the EC making a proposal for decarbonising gas and hydrogen markets by the end of June. Under discussion are changes to the EU's 2009 gas legislation. The existing directive, regulations and codes may restrict the development of renewable and low-carbon gases, the EC notes.

Natural gas accounts for 95% of gaseous fuels used in the EU, not only as an energy carrier but also as a key feedstock in industry processes. Gas also serves a vital role as a source of baseload power generation for a system that relies increasingly on fluctuating renewable energy supply.

According to the EC, gaseous fuels account for roughly 22% of the EU's total energy consumption today, including around 20% of electricity generation and 39% of heat production. The EC expects the share to remain about 20% in three decades' time.

A rise in demand for renewable and low-carbon gases could lead to a "crowding out" of imported natural gas, unless suppliers adapt by supplying more renewable and low-carbon gases of their own, the EC said. Otherwise, EU consumption will increasingly be met by domestic production.

Through legislative changes, the EU wants to encourage the repurposing of existing gas pipelines for renewable and low-carbon gases. It also wants new rules in place to prevent non-regulated monopolies from blocking new players from entering the hydrogen market, and for a decision to be taken on whether gas transmission system operators can operate electrolysers. The EC's landmark hydrogen strategy, published last summer, envisages the development of 40 GW of electrolyser capacity by 2030.

The EC wants to create a more decentralised system for gas injection, as the current rules mean "the tradability and access of renewable and low-carbon gases to markets and the grid are not on a level playing field with fossil natural gas." LNG terminals should also be made fit to receive renewable and low-carbon gases, granting access in a transparent way.