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HEA: we will need gas-fired power plants in the next two decades

Gas-fired power plants will be needed for the next two decades to balance fluctuating renewables but they must meet the condition of sustainability and comply with climate goals, said Pál Ságvári, Vice President of International Relations of the Hungarian Energy and Public Utility Regulatory Authority (HEA) at a meeting with GasNaturally, a Brussels-based industry organisation.

GasNaturally is a partnership of eight associations from across the whole gas value chain. Its members – involved in gas exploration and production, transmission, distribution, wholesale and retail operations, as well as gas in transport – includes organisations such as EUROGAS, Gas Infrastructure Europe, the International Association of Oil & Gas Producers (IOGP) and the International Gas Union (IGU).

As gas-fired power plants cannot meet the strict criteria for greenhouse gas emissions reduction set by the European Union overnight, GasNaturally has developed a package of proposals for the gradual introduction of the requirements.

Regarding the package of proposals Pál Ságvári, Vice-President of HEA said that gas-fired power plants are essentials in terms of supply security considerations and we will still need them in the coming decades, as a way to balance the system due to the introduction of weather-dependent renewables.

Natural gas and natural gas-fired electricity generation should therefore be seen as a bridging technology that will fundamentally contribute to the integration of renewables and energy transition according to Mr Ságvári. He noted that progressively stricter requirements could provide a feasible timeframe and incentives for natural gas power plants to make a safe transition.

As Pál Ságvári described natural gas-fired power plants play a significant role in the Hungarian electricity system. In 2020, natural gas provided about 28 per cent of the electricity produced but some power plants are close to the end of their life cycle. Mr Ságvári emphasised the importance of having enough flexible capacity, especially in light of the expected tripling of solar power generation by the end of the decade.

Therefore, HEA considers developing a regulatory framework that facilitates the involvement of flexible sources, such as energy storage or demand-side participation.

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