Eurogas feedback on European Partnership for Smart Networks and

Eurogas would like to welcome the roadmap looking at establishing a strategic partnership for smart networks and services in the context of Horizon Europe and the possibility to provide input at this early stage.

The document highlights that, the proposal has initially “identified a European Partnership on Smart Networks and Services as a priority. The objective of this partnership is to support the development of European strategic value chains for the ‘Industrial Internet of Things’ and for ‘Connected, Automated and Electric Vehicles”. Although the above are crucial priorities, the development of new dynamics in the gas market due to sectoral integration creates new dynamics also in the gas sector which could be further emphasized in the roadmap as we outline below;

  1. Horizon Europe and its predecessor, Horizon 2020, are crucial tools in the development of adequate technological solutions to help solve the issues which the EU and its Member State currently struggle with. Funding may help develop new solutions which can help the decarbonisation effort and tackling climate change.
  2. We believe the link with PCI can help streamline funding from various available sources to optimally support the development of smart networks and services.
  3. We believe that the roadmap overlooks the crucial contribution which smart gas grids can provide to the energy transition
    • Providing additional information to customers through the roll-out and availability of smart meters around Europe and the increasing digitalization of the grid. We note and welcome the “human-centric” approach outlined on page 3
    • Facilitating the injection of renewable and decarbonised gases through the roll-out of sensors providing more accurate and detailed information about gas quality
    • Additional interactions between the electricity grid and the gas grid may be further facilitated by the digitalization of the grid. Examples of such projects which provide additional flexibility and security of supply to the grid can be witnessed with the Interflex project in France for example.
  4. We would suggest adding a security of supply and safety of the network aspect, as there is a strong cybersecurity element in any digitalization exercise, which is noted in the roadmap; this risk, particularly if it is linked to critical infrastructure such as energy, must be addressed preemptively.
  5. Smart networks, as is noted in the roadmap, also provide the potential for improved autonomy in the digital area, as well as developing a stronger competitive edge in the area of industrial policy which the EU is focusing on currently.
  6. We note the three options which are presented but would suggest putting additional emphasis on bringing a variety of stakeholders together considering the increasing cross-sectoral dimension of digitalization programmes, notably when considering dynamics such as sectoral integration in the energy sector. Although only electric vehicles seem to be mentioned, the latter may have impacts on all networks as it may create spikes in electricity demand requiring flexible backup production which could be facilitated by smarter grids and networks.

We wish to underline that Eurogas and its experts remain available for any further questions or clarification and that we look forward to providing feedback to the final report.