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Policy Brief / Gas

Decarbonising the Gas Sector: is Renewable Gas a Serious Option?

Author(s): OLCZAK Maria, PIEBALGS Andris

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  • Today, natural gas provides one quarter of the EU’s energy supply. The EU has a well-developed gas network and skilled people to operate and trade the gas. Using natural gas as a fossil fuel produces significant GHG emissions. Because of that the gas sector should engage in the EU’s decarbonisation efforts. One of the most politically acceptable and economically viable ways to decarbonise the gas sector is to inject renewable gas into the existing gas networks.
  • The EU has considerable experience in the production and use of renew- able gas. The current schemes have mostly supported its use on the spot, mainly for electricity generation, and only a small share has been injected into the gas grid. The experience of the injection has been positive and in most cases increases the value of using renewable gas. However, the considerable increase of renewable gas production is not possible without concrete political support and addressing the cross-border issues stemming mainly from the differences in national legislation on gas quality.
  • Policy instruments for renewable gas support. The recast of the Renew- able Energy Directive (2009/28/EC) provides for positive development of renewable gas, however it still falls short of meeting the gas sector’s decarbonisation challenge.
  • To enable a real change a target for renewable gas in the European gas grid for 2030 should be established, indicative trajectory designed and the Energy Union’s governance procedure used to undertake corrective actions, if necessary.
  • The renewable gas support schemes should encourage the production of the renewable gas with one of the goals regarding its injection in the gas grid.
  • Dealing with obstacles to cross-border trade. The Network Code on Interoperability and Data Exchange rules seems satisfactory to avoid cross- border trade restrictions resulting from the gas quality differences.
  • EU benchmarks on odorization and control processes should be established to facilitate cross-border trade.
  • Harmonisation of the Guarantees of Origin (GoO) certification system should facilitate the uptake of renewable gas in the grid.