A group of eight EU countries has joined forces to defend the “role of natural gas in a climate-neutral Europe”.
In a joint paper, the group of eight calls for “combined electricity – gas solutions” in the transition to net-zero emissions by 2050.
The paper – titled “The role of natural gas in a climate-neutral Europe” – is signed by Bulgaria, Czech Republic, Greece, Hungary, Lithuania, Poland, Romania, and Slovakia.
It makes the case for fossil gas in the transition away from coal power, which is a dominant form of electricity in many eastern EU member states.
“When replacing solid fossil fuels, natural gas and other gaseous fuels such as bio-methane and decarbonized gases can reduce emissions significantly,” the paper argues.
The European Commission reckons that electricity will meet 53% of the bloc’s energy demand by 2050 as the bloc moves towards reducing emissions to net-zero.
That leaves at least 40% for other energy carriers such as gaseous fuels that Brussels says will have to be fully decarbonized in order to reach the EU’s stated goal of becoming climate neutral by 2050.
Natural gas has been a major driver of Europe’s rapid transition away from coal power and is also proving a valuable back-up for variable renewable electricity generation from wind and solar power.
But the gas industry is also positioning itself for the long-run, with plans to switch to biomethane and hydrogen and use its established network of pipelines and caverns to store energy during winter when demand is highest.
“In the years to come, renewable and decarbonized gases will gradually replace natural gas, creating new opportunities for the industrial and energy sectors and reducing risks of a lock-in effect,” the eight countries write in the joint paper.
“It is of crucial importance to maintain EU support and financial assistance for the development of gas infrastructure through enabling framework, structural funds, and investment loans,” the group writes.