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27 Mar 2019, 12:22
Kerstine Appunn

Affordable natural gas essential to give up nuclear and coal – European Commission

Clean Energy Wire

The EU won’t achieve its CO₂ reduction targets only by “electrifying society”, Florian Ermacora, head of Wholesale Markets, Electricity and Gas, Directorate-General for Energy, at the European Commission told an audience of energy system experts at the German Association of Energy and Water Industries’ (BDEW) annual grid conference (Treffpunkt Netze) in Berlin. “Natural gas will have to complement intermittent renewable sources like solar PV and wind,” he said. “On the other hand, using natural gas emits too much CO₂ to play a larger role in the European energy mix in 2050.” In the medium term, it was important to make gas competitive on a European scale, “otherwise there won’t be an exit from coal and nuclear.” The European gas market must therefore be guarded against monopolies and the dominance of certain suppliers, such as Russia, he added. At the same time, the European Commission is working to create favourable conditions for synthetic, renewable gases. 
Europe’s electricity and gas operators are currently working on a joint network plan based on a carbon budget which includes zero-emission scenarios for 2050. “And that automatically means there will be no fossil gas in the mix by then,” Jan Ingwersen, general manager of ENTSOG, the European Network of Transmission System Operators for Gas, told EURACTIV in an interview.

Natural gas is often presented as a clean alternative to more carbon-intensive fossil fuels such as oil and coal, and flexible gas-fired power plants as the perfect partner for fluctuating renewables. With Germany debating how to give up coal in the coming decades, the government says gas demand will rise in the 2020s. Many projections, however, predict that gas consumption in Germany and Europe will decline steadily in the future.

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