Editorial – James Watson
Welcome back to another issue of Molecules.
Most of us have stayed home since our last issue. Around the world more than three billion people remain in quarantine; a protective measure against Covid-19. For the majority of us, these measures affect every aspect of our day-to-day life. Some changes may be easier to handle, others prove more challenging. We thank all our members across the supply, distribution and retail chains who are working diligently and adapting quickly, in order to ensure continued and secure access to energy at this vital time.
A key piece from our last issue of Molecules, which highlighted the importance of energy supply was republished by Platts this month. Written by Eurogas Policy Advisor Felicia Mester, the article discussed how European gas supply security had been successfully planned, and that contingency measures had so far proven effective.
Along with twelve other industrial organisations, Eurogas has signed a letter addressed to the European Commission, the European Parliament, and EU Ambassadors. Together we have urged institutions and governments to continue to support the 2050 climate neutrality target and to put the next generation of European made gas technologies as a central pillar in the Covid 19-recovery. Indeed, it is our belief that the decarbonisation policies should be at the heart of the Covid-19 Recovery Plan, and that because gaseous energy will account for a substantial share of final energy use in Europe, the large-scale and rapid decarbonisation of gaseous energy must be one of the priorities of the recovery period. This will create quality non-seasonal jobs and wealth in Europe in a way no other energy sector can.
In the meantime, the Eurogas Secretariat has adapted our own approach, and switched the traffic of our morning commute to online traffic, by joining the world of webinars. The first of our series discussed ‘Industrial Strategies for Climate Leadership’. We were joined by representatives from the European Parliament, ITM Power, and Wärtsilä, with a virtual attendance of over 180 participants. Feedback has been extremely positive, so don’t miss our next one on Tuesday 14 May, when we will look at the issue of targets for gas decarbonisation.
Finally, in this issue our policy team provide important updates on their work around the Technical Expert Group (TEG) report on Sustainable Finance; a response to the European Commission on Energy Sector Integration; and an opinion piece on how the cancellation of both the Madrid Forum and the Copenhagen Forum may impact the European Green Deal.
We hope you find the articles informative – and we hope you find them engaging. This crisis has demonstrated the extent to which essential services such as health carers, food producers and energy suppliers continue despite difficult conditions, so that society in turn can continue the fight against this virus.
We hope this issue finds you all well, and we encourage you all to stay safe, to stay home, and to stay kind to each other.
Eurogas Secretary General
Eurogas Online: Industrial Strategies Webinar Launched
On Tuesday 21 April, the entire Eurogas Secretariat waited nervously. There was just five minutes to go before the start of Eurogas’ first ever live webinar. Over 200 participants had registered. Speakers from the European Commission, the European Parliament, ITM Power and Wärtsilä were all confirmed, and launch videos – another first for the organisation – had been rolled out in the week prior. All that was left was for the speakers to dial in, and the webinar to get going.
When it did start, we were not disappointed. The discussion kick-started with a briefing from MEP Christophe Grudler from the ITRE Committee, who quickly underlined support for a green recovery, but emphasised that measures must be put in place to save European industries, particularly those in strategic sectors, such as aviation, energy, aluminium, space, and the automotive sectors.
Next we heard from Mr Marcus Newborough, Director of Development at ITM Power, supported this assessment, stating: “We talk about the Post-Covid 19 era. I think we all believe in that. We have faith we will come through this. However, I think one thing is really important to contrast that with is the whole issue of climate change. Climate change isn’t reversible. There isn’t a post climate change era.” He called for decarbonisation policies to match decarbonisation technologies, and warned against too great a focus on electrification. “One of the really interesting things when you look at energy use across the EU is you find about six times as much energy is used in the form of molecular energy, gaseous, liquid, or solid fuel, as electricity,” Marcus said. “We really badly need to move to a zero emissions fuel.”
Finally, participants heard from Mr Marko Vainikka, Director of Corporate Relations and Sustainability at Wärtsilä, who continued the discussion on the importance of developing climate technologies in Europe. In particular, he spoke about the extent of the organisation’s Research and Development investments and the technological direction and competitiveness these have created, which will be necessary for Europe to lead in the future. He discussed how modern gas engine technology can utilise biogases and synthetic gases already, and that modern engine powerplants are flexible. Therefore it is not a case of changing the infrastructure, but rather when these gases will be available at scale.
Marko concluded that the clearest route to decarbonisation is moving from coal to gas, and then decarbonised gas, whether biogases or synthetic gases. “This is by far the better route than getting rid of every gaseous fuels from energy production,” he said.
Watch the full webinar here.
Note from the Eurogas Secretariat: Mr Mark Nicklas, Head of Unit Industrial Strategy and Value Chains, DG GROW at the European Commission, was a confirmed speaker. Unfortunately he was not able to join the discussion due to a technical issue, which could not be resolved in time. We apologise to those attendees expecting to see Mr Nicklas, and hope he can join us for Eurogas events in the future.
Post Covid-19: Gas Associations Support Green Recovery
“Europe can emerge stronger from the current crisis and establish itself as a global leader on clean energy technology manufacturing” wrote Eurogas and twelve other signatories, including Hydrogen Europe and the European Biogas Association, in a letter to European Institutions and governments on Monday 20 April.
The co-signatories outlined how concentrating economic recovery efforts on climate technology sectors where Europe is leading, such as hydrogen, biogas and processes such as CCUS, offers Europe the twin benefit of stimulating economic recovery and jobs, as well as contributing to the energy transition. They also called on Europe to collectively invest in ‘leadership, sustainability, and decarbonisation technology’.
“We strongly believe that this objective, in order to guarantee swift economic recovery, must be underpinned by a targeted development of renewable and decarbonised gas and their uptake, echoed by a smart sector integration approach,” wrote the group. The thirteen assembled organisations represent the entirety of the gas sector, including, industry, power, heating, mobility, infrastructure, transmission, turbines and cogeneration.
To achieve carbon neutrality by 2050, it is predicted that gaseous energy will account for a substantial share of final energy use in Europe. As such, organisations in the energy sector are calling on policies to support the large-scale and rapid decarbonisation of gaseous energy, and that this should be a priority of the recovery period. Considering the consumption of residential and industrial users alongside heat and power generators, it is particularly important to seize the opportunity provided by Europe’s leadership in innovation. In addition, the manufacturing and deployment of these decarbonised and renewable technologies will help both to maintain existing jobs and to create new ones within the EU.
Energy Sector Integration: Call for Cohesion and Targets
This month, Eurogas Policy Advisor Felicia Mester has been busy with European Commission’s request for ideas on a future EU strategy on energy sector integration. Keep tuned for the final paper, which will be published on our website on 15 May.
Energy Sector Integration (rebranded from Smart Sector Integration) proposes that the wider and deeper integration of economic sectors can enable a more efficient and smarter use of valuable energy between sectors. The energy transition cannot succeed by policy measures that seek to decarbonise sectors in isolation of each other. Instead, it will require all sustainable technologies at hand including – and importantly – renewable and decarbonised gas.
Gas is the historical driver of effective sector coupling. For example, gas-to-power is a technology that has been offering dispatchable power to the electricity system for decades. Becoming carbon neutral requires massive increases in renewable energy from different, often intermittent sources, which are typically hard to store. Molecules will be the core of energy system integration handling peak demand, storing energy and adjust energy output (known as providing dispatchable generation.)
This is particularly evident when we assess how across the European Union an average of six times the amount of energy is used in the form of molecular energy – gaseous, liquid or solid fuel – as electricity.
Our pathway to energy system integration underlines the urgency for a forward-looking regulatory framework, targeted support for clean technologies, and efficient policies to ramp up demand for new gases. This is essential to achieve cohesion and full decarbonisation of the industrial, mobility, heating and agricultural sectors. Natural, renewable and decarbonised gas will be part of this journey to 2050 and beyond.
Sustainable Finance and Taxonomy: Next Steps
On 15 April the European Council adopted a taxonomy regulation, following trialogue agreement in December 2019.
The final version of the report, that was commissioned to advise on the set up of a well-functioning taxonomy, was published by the Technical Expert Group as a recommendation to the Commission on 9 March 2020. This report provided over 600 pages of technical suggestions covering 70 economic activities, and outlined pathways and criteria by which to define activities and their sustainable credibility.
The proposals evolved in parallel to the taxonomy regulation. Approval from the European Parliament is expected soon. The next step is then clear: a delegated act must be designed by the end of the year which will set out the ‘dos and don’ts’ for investors and companies in implementing and using such a taxonomy.
This legal tool will need to clarify the criteria to identify activities which help mitigate climate change, but also help other activities either adapt, or transition from current activities to a climate neutral 2050. In this respect, we believe the aim will be to ensure that the act can work in good harmony with existing objectives set out in EU law. Crucially when it comes to the energy system, it must also adequately value the interconnectedness between activities, and affordability for end-users.
In this respect, we believe gas will have a determining role in ensuring an affordable transition for consumers. A well-crafted taxonomy that recognises the crucial role of gas and gaseous solutions could also facilitate the evolution of renewable and decarbonised gases in our energy system.
Madrid and Copenhagen Forums: Essential to the Green Deal?
Due to the Covid-19 pandemic, both the Madrid Forum and the Copenhagen Infrastructure Forum have been postponed this year. While health and safety must take precedence, this article will look at whether the postponement could prove problematic in terms of the guidance and regulatory stability required in the industry.
The primary concern is whether a clear course has been set for the industry this year; one that is both ambitious and feasible course. For gas industry experts, the Madrid Forum is a yearly staple on the regulatory agenda, bringing together the key EU associations at all levels of the gas value chain. In recent years, it has also been attended by electricity sector representatives, as well as end-users considering debates on sector coupling and sector integration. This participation is testament to the importance of discussions that now surrounds sector coupling, which are now not possible on the same scale. The result may be less alignment and strategy.
As for the Copenhagen Infrastructure Forum, this focuses on the interconnections between power and gas, and the role of infrastructure therein. On 6 April it was announced this would be postponed. But as discussions gain speed in preparation for the Commission’s communication on Smart Sector Integration, scheduled for publication in June, structured stakeholder consultations are significantly limited. Despite the public consultation currently underway, the technical exchanges which would have taken place will now not happen until after the European Commission’s communication is published.
The result is a potential issue for Member States, which may lack clarity on how to continue the energy transition in the context of post Covid-19 policies.
In short, the options outlined in the framework of the Green Deal could now be limited. The Green Deal addresses issues within sector coupling, market integration for new gases, and ensuring adequate DSO and TSO cooperation. All of this may suffer delay given the quarantine measures, and the slower economic and societal growth brought about by the pandemic.
Events – Coming up
Let’s Meet! | Eurogas Online Event | 14 May 2020, 09:30-10:30
Let’s Meet! | Eurogas Online Event | 14 May 2020, 09:30-10:30
This online event Can Europe reach climate neutrality without targets? will look at how the energy sector can support climate neutrality by 2050 and whether gas – natural, renewable and decarbonised – requires targets to meet decarbonisation goals for 2030 and 2050?
The online event will run from 09:30 to 10:30 (CET). Programme to be announced soon!
POSTPONED – Eurogas Annual Conference | 1 October 2020 | 14:30-18:00 CET
Eurogas Annual Conference ‘A single pathway to 2050?’ Due to the health concerns arising from the spread of the coronavirus (COVID-19), Eurogas has decided to postpone the Eurogas Annual Conference ‘A single pathway to 2050?’ planned to take place on 19 March 2020 (Brussels). The new date is 1st October 2020 (14:30-18:00, Brussels). More information will be available in due course.
POSTPONED Flame Webinar | 12 – 13 October 2020
Due to the ongoing situation with Covid-19, the Flame conference has been postponed until 12-13 October 2020. Europe’s largest and most influential meeting place for the global gas industry, Flame will provide a vital forum for the gas industry to discuss the effects of decarbonisation policy, the security of supply implications of new and existing gas infrastructure, the progress of European gas market integration and the outlook for global LNG supplies. The conference is renowned for the quality of its speaker faculty, the seniority of its attendees and the scope of its discussions.
Enlit Europe | 27-29 October
Enlit is the new unifying brand for Clarion Energy’s worldwide series of Utility Week and POWERGEN events. A guiding light for the sector that brings clarity to the global energy transformation and defines the roles of all of those involved. At the European edition, the Enlit community will come together for three days in Milan from 27-29 October to meet and inspire each other and to develop their discussions and actions into a plan for the coming years.
Click here for more information and join us and 18.000 international power and smart energy professionals, 1.000 exhibiting companies, 40 EU funded projects, and 500 speakers in the Hub Session- and Summit Programme. www.Enlit-europe.com
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