Essentially, the roadmap aims to prove that a secure, competitive and decarbonised energy system in 2050 is possible.
It is the belief of a large number in the industry that both natural gas and LNG will play a key role in achieving the targets set out in the Energy Roadmap 2050, and that as such, the investment in the necessary infrastructure should remain a high priority throughout the continent and the development of a secure and efficient natural gas infrastructure and industry should be of chief importance.
One organisation that is dedicated to achieve these targets, whilst promoting the value of gas as a future energy source is Gas Infrastructure Europe (GIE), which is a representative organisation formed in 2002 to promote a safe and reliable European gas transmission, storage and LNG systems suitable for meeting present and future needs.
GIE, which represents the interests of 70 natural gas infrastructure operators distributed in 25 countries across Europe and is also a founding member of Gas Naturally (www.gasnaturally.eu), believes that the development of natural gas and natural gas infrastructure in Europe can reinforce the three fundamental pillars of EU energy policy: energy security, sustainability and competitiveness. There are, of course, a number of advantages for natural gas that GIE is keen to promote in its work. For example, natural gas is the fossil fuel with lowest CO2 emission; it is acceptable, abundant and affordable; it is the ideal partner for the development of renewables by providing a real alternative backup and, it offers great flexibility in transport, LNG and storage. Thus far, the development of LNG has given Europe the leeway to diversify its energy sources and increase its security of gas supply. For example, the development and construction of LNG terminals is fast paced, which means that many nations, such as the UK, have been able to almost cover the decrease in gas production while keeping high standards of security supply.
However, bearing the Energy Roadmap 2050 in mind, GIE believes that there are still further investments needed if we are to achieve a complete gas infrastructure while meeting the necessary EU targets. The main challenge is ensuring the free flow of gas throughout Europe, which means that encouraging investment by providing a sound investment climate is an essential task for the EU. The European Commission estimates the investments to be around 70 billion Euros. True, a sufficient amount of investments in gas infrastructure will help overcome energy challenges in the future. It should be remembered that gas infrastructure currently costs less than ten per cent of European consumers’ current gas bill, which is a relatively low cost. Nevertheless, investments to come should be optimised in order to maintain gas competitiveness and preserve its value. We are still facing the double challenge of realising significant investments while at the same time maintaining the value of the existing infrastructures.
GIE aims to play a key role in developing Europe’s long-term perspective on gas and ensuring that the correct EU policies are in place to ensure that gas infrastructure will be used effectively in for the future. “I firmly believe that gas will play a key role in the transition announced by the Energy Roadmap 2050, and I am convinced that we have to work very hard to achieve the investment needed in gas infrastructure as well as ensuring that everyone across Europe is pursuing the same goals,” explained GIE president Jean-Claude Depail when recently speaking with European Oil and Gas
. “The main aim for us remains to encourage the development of the necessary infrastructure and ensure that the European Commission has all of the information needed to make the correct decisions in order to work with the investors and secure the investment.”
As mentioned, gas has a number of benefits for European energy demands for the future, as Jean-Claude Depail explained; “Gas is a very clean fuel and will help in the reduction of CO2 as indicated by the Energy Roadmap 2050; however I believe that the reduction of CO2 is not just a European question, which we are clearly very concerned about, but a global one. Even if, by promoting the use of gas associated with low-carbon technologies (such as CCS), we alone are able to promote a reduction of 80 or 90 per cent, European levels will still be marginal in comparison to the rest of the world. Europe must not act alone in the fight against climate change; we should be able to also involve the other nations of the world to move together as much as possible to a low-carbon economy. If we act alone, our efforts will be useless and our ambitious targets on decarbonisation will not make sense.
“Gas can also play a very important role in providing the flexibility needed for future energy developments, particularly in relation to renewables for example. For the main renewable comenergy sources you need flexibility, and it is there where gas, more than other energy form, can bring that flexibility as it can be quickly used to continue producing electricity when there is a downturn in the available renewable energy so, in effect, the development of renewables needs the development of gas. I really think that gas can, therefore, play an enormous role in the energy future around the world”
In terms of GIE’s work in building the necessary infrastructure, Jean-Claude highlights some of the key points for the future: “I think that it is very important to ensure that we have a very stable and predictable regulatory framework in place for the development of this infrastructure. At present we still have different regulators or differing frameworks throughout Europe, and I think that is a key question that needs to be addressed. That stability also needs to be in place because in order to achieve the necessary investment the investors need to be confident in the development capability of gas.”
Looking at the coming years, Jean-Claude explains that: “Clearly, GIE and its members are all committed to creating this single competitive and sustainable market while working towards the development of the gas infrastructure that we hope to see throughout Europe. As I mentioned, I believe that stability is the key in developing this project. These things take time, in many cases ten years or so, so that stability throughout the investment period is essential to achieving success. GIE and its members will play a key role in this, and will have to work very closely together, but I am very confident that through our hard work in developing market stability we will be able to really change the market going forwards and have a single and secure gas market in the EU that will help achieve the future of EU’s energy policy targets.”
Gas Infrastructure Europe
For further information please visit: www.gie.eu.comenergy