Gas and innovative gaseous solutions are a vital building block of a robust energy system of the future. That was the central topic of the Eurogas Central and Eastern European Conference which addressed the functioning of the gas markets and the future of energy in the region.
“As the transport sector focuses on crisis recovery, we have an opportunity to build back better – to make our transport systems more resilient, smarter and cleaner,” said Adina Vălean, Commissioner for Transport at the European Commission. “Sustainable alternative fuels have a role to play here. Next week I will present our new Strategy for Sustainable and Smart Mobility, which will set out how we plan to approach the dual decarbonisation and digitalisation transitions needed to ensure our transport system is fit for the future.”
Philippe Sauquet, Eurogas President, defined the CEE region as a uniquely important part of the European Union. In particular, Romania is an important country, rich with culture, talented people and natural resources as it is among the few European countries that produce natural gas.
“Ahead of winter, heating homes at an affordable cost and in the most efficient way becomes an especially relevant topic,” Mr Sauquet said. “Gas and innovative gas solutions have tremendous potential in delivering on the EU emission reduction targets in a cost-effective and publicly acceptable manner, which is especially important for the Central and Eastern European region.”
Gas consumption and use of gas in heating, how water and cooking are growing every year. In 2019, gross inland consumption of natural gas in the EU increased by 4.2 per cent compared with 2018, also in CEE with Greece leading the region with an increase of 9 per cent. On one hand, this shows the support of consumers for natural gas, on the other, it makes the future look less clear. The new ambitious reduction target set by the European Commission at 55 per cent, highlights again the importance of gas as a transition fuel.
“Gas has a future in a decarbonised Europe,” commented Eric Stab, President of the Romanian Energy Utilities Federation (ACUE) and CEO of ENGIE Romania. “We firmly believe that natural gas, during the transition period, and, progressively, green gas – biogas, biomethane, hydrogen – will play an important role in the energy mix of the European Union in the coming decades. Romania, having significant natural gas resources, large infrastructure and very good potential for green hydrogen and biomethane, is well placed to take an active role in the EU long-term decarbonisation strategy.”
As pointed out by Lenka Kovačovská, Executive Director of the Czech Gas Association, many challenges are ahead of us but the potential is impressive, especially when thinking to coal-to-gas switch which will be beneficial for the environment. With the gradual decarbonisation of gas, many challenges are ahead but international cooperation and the integration of regional gas market are key to promote a sustainable and cost-effective future of the European energy system.