A new report by Gas Infrastructure Europe (GIE) identifies and highlights the opportunities brought by the gas infrastructure and gas in all its forms – natural gas, low-carbon and renewable gases – for a number of Central-Eastern and South-Eastern European countries in the context of their energy transition, against the background of the EU´s climate goals to achieve CO2-neutrality by 2050.
“This analysis shows that one thing is clear: there is no one size fits all solution,” said Boyana Achovski, Secretary General of GIE. “If we want to deliver climate neutrality by 2050, the specificities of all EU Member States must be considered when designing Europe’s decarbonisation pathways. It will be a mistake if future legislation will ignore this. Only an inclusive and technology-neutral approach will help Europe deliver its 2050 goal. Each Member State will face its own battles and leverage its unique opportunities, but no one should be left behind.”
Ms Achovski explained that, for example, due to their transit character and historical circumstances, countries in South-Eastern and Central-Eastern Europe have their energy mix strongly based on coal. Therefore, the existing gas infrastructure will play an important role when switching from coal to natural gas to hydrogen.
“Building on our well-developed infrastructure, the gas assets will gradually accommodate growing shares of renewable and low-carbon molecules, including hydrogen,” she added. “Today, it already provides increased flexibility in complementing the electricity systems by storing a huge amount of renewable and low-carbon molecules. On top of that, our pipelines, underground storage facilities and LNG terminals can be fit for hydrogen with some retrofitting and repurposing.”
Achieving decarbonisation by 2050 requires significant efforts and commitment from all Member States and sectors. The report Decarbonisation in Central-Eastern and South-Eastern Europe: How gas infrastructure can contribute to meet EU’s long-term decarbonisation objectives brings forward the decarbonisation potential of the gas infrastructure in that context. It presents multiple pathways in which a future-proof gas infrastructure could ensure resilient security of supply by integrating large volumes of renewable and low-carbon molecules, including natural gas, hydrogen and biogases.
In particular, by 2030, a significant reduction in CO2- emissions can be achieved by the switch from coal-to-gas and the uptake of low-carbon gases into the existing gas infrastructure. By 2050, the gas infrastructure will serve as a valuable asset for the achievement of the EU climate goals, since it is able to integrate renewable gases like green hydrogen and biomethane and thereby can guarantee the transport and storage of these gases.