Gas infrastructure needed to scale up renewable gas to 270 bcm by 2050, enabling a decarbonised and renewables-based energy system at lowest costs

Today a study performed by Navigant for the Gas for Climate consortium, of which EBA is a member, was published. This study serves as a follow-up to our study published last year, including a greatly expanded scope and analysis.

  • Study published today finds that a smart combination of hydrogen and biomethane with electricity is the optimal way to decarbonise the energy system, with all energy ultimately becoming renewable.
  • Using around 2900 TWh or approximately 270 billion cubic metres (natural gas equivalent) of green hydrogen and renewable methane through existing gas infrastructure across the EU saves society €217 billion annually by 2050 compared to an energy system using a minimal amount of gas.
  • Substantial hydrogen, biomethane and power to methane production cost reductions are possible.

While achieving 100% greenhouse gas reduction requires large quantities of renewable electricity, by far the most cost optimal role to decarbonise is by combining electricity with renewable gases such as hydrogen and biomethane. Renewable gas adds value in the heating of buildings, for high temperature industrial heat, providing flexibility in electricity production alongside wind and solar and in heavy transport.

Using around 2900 TWh or approximately 270 billion cubic meters of renewable methane and hydrogen in a smart combination with renewable electricity saves society €217 billion across the energy system compared to reducing gas to an absolute minimum. Existing gas infrastructure is indispensable in transporting this renewable and low carbon gas to the various demand sectors. Gas infrastructure can be used to transport both hydrogen and biomethane in 2050.

The Navigant experts foresee an initial important role for blue hydrogen (carbon-neutral hydrogen produced from natural gas with carbon capture and storage), to grow the developing hydrogen market including in new applications. Towards 2050, with increased levels of renewable electricity and falling costs, renewable green hydrogen will gradually replace blue hydrogen, achieving in the end a fully renewable energy system.

In a joint statement, the CEOs of the nine Gas for Climate members said: “The new Gas for Climate study shows that gas and its infrastructure will play an indispensable role in the future decarbonised energy system together with electricity infrastructures. We support a fully renewable energy system in which biomethane and green hydrogen will play a major role in a smart combination with renewable electricity while recognising that blue hydrogen can accelerate decarbonisation efforts in the coming decades.”