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    Eurogas Looks Forward to EU Strategies


Molecules will still be needed, says the EC's strategy; but more must be done if the srrategy is to clean up Europe's imports, says Clean Air Task Force.

by: William Powell

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Eurogas Looks Forward to EU Strategies

The European Commission's strategies on methane and the Renovation Wave, due to be published October 14, have much that is positive to say about the need for gas, according to industry group Eurogas October 13. New technology will play a big role in supporting countries across Europe to reduce their greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, it said.

The secretary-general of Eurogas James Watson said the EC's focus on improving data availability and accuracy for methane emissions through both measurements and quantification is the right and responsible action to take. Establishing a common EU reporting framework would be paramount to this in the short term and would pave the way for meaningful methane emission reductions."

Eurogas said a broad range of actions is already being undertaken on this front through the Methane Guiding Principles (MGP) – a voluntary initiative aimed at exchanging best practices and strengthening the management of methane emissions throughout the industry.

Earlier this month, Russian gas producer and LNG exporter Novatek announced it had signed up to the MGP. And a trio of industry organisations announced October 13 the start of joint work on measuring and monitoring methane emissions.

Watson said Europe's gas industry was calling for a "binding 20% greenhouse gas intensity reduction target for gaseous fuels by 2030, compared to 2018. This target will help meet higher climate ambitions and deliver an increasingly sustainable EU gas sector." Eurogas also wants an 11% EU-wide binding target on renewable gas by 2030. 

Further carbon emission reductions can be achieved in heating through using modern gas technologies – small condensing gas boilers, which are highly efficient and can also run on biomethane. Hydrogen boilers and fuel cells are also being made and deployed here in the EU. All these options will support increased energy savings and GHG reductions, without imposing on consumers the heavy financial and resource burden of deeply renovating homes or requiring them to completely change their heating system.

"Building renovation, combined with the deployment of smart gas solutions for heating, will be central to economic recovery from the pandemic. It will secure jobs for European citizens and maintain Europe's leading position as a pioneer in clean gas energy technologies," concluded Watson.

The chief economist at the International Energy Agency Laszlo Varro told the Flame virtual conference October 13 that "ripping out 100mn gas boilers in Europe" and destroying gas distribution companies in pursuit of electrification would not deliver an affordable energy transition. Instead, the same equipment will carry growing proportions of biomethane and hydrogen, he said.

CATF 'not so sure'

US lobby group Clean Air Task Force said the strategy was good as far as it went but more work was needed. "Methane packs more than 80 times the heat-trapping power of CO2, and levels have been rising faster than anticipated under the Paris Climate Agreement. If this trend continues, it might prove impossible to meet the agreement's goals – even with aggressive, bold CO2 reductions," it said in its statement. 

The leaked draft for example proposes "only to create a methane supply index, with no ramifications for imported gas that is higher methane and no standard for methane leaks when the imported gas is being produced and transported." 

So, while it commends the EU for putting the reduction of methane emissions from the oil and gas industry on the front burner of climate action, the methane strategy to be unveiled may leave a lot of methane pollution on the table. "The EC, Parliament and member countries can use the strategy as a starting point but much more must be done to cut methane emissions. The real work on methane has only begun," it said.