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15 Feb 2019, 11:34
Julian Wettengel

Electricity and gas grids need to be better aligned in new energy system

Tennet / Gasunie

Gas and electricity grid infrastructures need to be much better aligned to guarantee the reliability of the future energy system, according to a joint study by electricity grid operator TenneT and gas grid operator Gasunie – the “Infrastructure Outlook 2050”. Electricity and gas can complement each other well, such as through seasonal storage of gas produced from renewable electricity (power-to-gas, PtG). Also, increasing fluctuations in solar and wind energy production can only be smoothed out by integrating the two systems to a greater extent, said the Dutch companies, which have extensive transmission infrastructure in Germany. “We all need to act together now […]. Industry is also a crucial partner in this process. For energy systems are not converted overnight but require sustained, joint efforts,” said TenneT CEO Manon van Beek in a press release. The study calls on governments to create the necessary regulatory framework for the integration of PtG installations into the system.

So far, Germany’s energy transition – the move away from nuclear and fossil fuels and the shaping of a system almost entirely fuelled by renewable energy sources – has largely happened in the electricity sector. Sector coupling refers to the idea of interconnecting the energy consuming sectors – buildings (heating and cooling), transport, and industry – with the power producing sector. The jury is still out on which technologies will be best suited to "electrify" the entire economy, with power-to-gas being a hot contender. Making gas with wind and solar power could provide carbon-neutral fuel for heating and transport, and pave the way for large-scale seasonal energy storage.

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