04 May 2023, 12:04
Julian Wettengel

Europe can halve fossil gas use by 2030 without risk to supply security – think tank

Clean Energy Wire

The European Union can cut its fossil gas use in half by 2030 and fully exit the fuel by 2050 while maintaining supply security and industrial production at today’s levels without disruptive behavioural changes, said energy policy think tank Agora Energiewende. The report titled “EU Gas Exit Pathway” states that crucial actions to help the phase-out include the ramp up of renewable energy to 70 percent of power generation by 2030, and 85 percent by 2040 (share in 2021 about 35%). Other elements necessary to exit fossil gas use are to improve energy efficiency and electrifying process heat in the industry sector, insulating buildings, as well as installing 40 million heat pumps by 2030 and 80 million by 2040, said Agora. Initially, the electricity sector could be the fastest to phase out fossil gas, driven by the rapid scaling-up of solar and wind power. Other sectors will need longer, with industry at first relying on increased energy efficiency and direct electrification, and only later green hydrogen as a key fuel. Still, “in the industry sector, the sub-sectors for chemicals, iron and steel, and machinery and transport equipment could produce fuel without fossil gas by 2040,” writes the think tank.

The European Union aims to have net zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050, which means that oil, gas and coal have to be largely phased out by that time. While the bloc has introduced a market mechanism – emissions trading – to bring down emissions in power generation, energy-intensive industries, and transport and buildings, it has not set end dates for fossil fuels on the way to climate neutrality. Phasing out gas will also have a huge impact on the existing infrastructure. In another recent report, Agora said that more than 90 percent of Germany’s distribution will become obsolete with the country’s climate neutrality target 2045.

Agora Energiewende also proposed a 2040 greenhouse gas reduction target for the EU, on which negotiations in the bloc are just starting. The think tank says the EU should aim for a 90-percent reduction compared to the 1990s. The EU is aiming for 55 percent emissions reduction by 2030.

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