The Future of Gas Networks – Key Issues for Debate

The Oxford Institute for Energy Studies held a Work​shop on “The Future of Gas Networks” to examine decarbonisation plans and the impact of the potential growth in the use of renewable and decarbonised gases in Europe. Participants included representatives from nine European gas network companies (both transmission and distribution), technical experts in decarbonisation, regulators, government officials and academics. This document summarises the seven key issues for debate arising from the Workshop discussions:

  1. The major gas networks recognise the need to prepare for, and facilitate, decarbonisation.
  2. The route to decarbonisation can take many forms, though hydrogen is likely to feature in most networks. In larger countries solutions are likely to be regional rather than national.
  3. There are a number of pilot projects and targets/aspirations for 2050 – there is less clarity on how the targets will be achieved or on who will lead.
  4. Regulation is a key issue. In most countries existing regulatory objectives may need changing in order to align with government decarbonisation aspirations and the achievement of targets.
  5. There is a lack of consensus on whether and how market models might need to adapt.
  6. Detailed stakeholder analysis – and in particular customer attitudes – will be required.
  7. There are a range of important technical issues including standardisation, data quality and transparency, verification and certification to be considered.

By: Chris N Le Fevre