The Role of Gases in the European Energy Transition
The role of gases in the energy transition is a different, and much more immediate, issue in the EU, compared with other global regions. Net zero targets for 2050 mean that in order to retain the gas market and the extensive network infrastructure which has been developed, zero carbon gases will need to be developed, and natural gas (methane) will need to be decarbonized. Maximum availability of biomethane and hydrogen from power to gas is estimated at 100–150 billion cubic meters by 2050 (or around 25–30% of gas demand in the late 2010s). Therefore, large scale hydrogen production from reforming methane with carbon capture and storage (CCS), or pyrolysis, will be needed to maintain anything close to current demand levels. Costs of biomethane and hydrogen options are several times higher than prices of natural gas in 2019–2020. Significant financial support for decarbonization technologies — from governments and regulators — will therefore be needed in the 2020s, if they are to be available on a large scale in the 2030s and 2040s. If the EU gas community fails to advance convincing decarbonized narratives backed by investments which allow for commercialization of renewable gas and methane decarbonization technologies; and/or governments fail to create the necessary legal/fiscal and regulatory frameworks to support these technologies, then energy markets will progressively move away from gases and towards electrification.
`The Role of Gases in the European Energy Transition’, Russian Journal of Economics 6 (2020), 390-405