Gas is not only an environmentally friendly energy source, it has also long-term available reserves, making a significant contribution to secure energy supplies for Europe.
European gas companies have made substantial investments in supply security and infrastructure for gas supplies well into the 21st Century. Gas companies are also looking further ahead and developing scenarios for using gas together with renewable energies as a “pipeline to the future”.
The current supply structure has a pipeline network that can be used for future energy systems without the need for any fundamental modifications.
The supply structure also virtually provides the cornerstone for a new supply structure in the future. It is possible to inject into this system a mixture of gas from conventional and unconventional sources, hydrogen generated with electricity from renewable energies and methane from biomass.
Existing storage facilities can be used for immediate storage. On the consumption side, particularly in the residential sector, there can be a combination of gas and renewable fuels, including solar energy.
New challenges lie in possible further technical developments e.g. in the conversion of water and gas to hydrogen. Excess electricity can be used to produce hydrogen and then hydrogen can then be stored. The commercial developments of such techniques will depend on improved efficiencies and lower costs.
Gas, as the so-called “backup energy”, could also be converted by catalysts to hydrogen. In future, micro-generation hydrogen fuel cells could be the basis for power and heat in the residential sector, with domestic applications switched from the use of gas into the use of hydrogen instead.