The Eurogas annual conference in brief: ‘A Pathway to Solutions’

CONFERENCE RECAP | More than 250 energy experts from across Europe joined Eurogas for our annual conference on 21 March, taking stock of emergency measures in the EU, and the deployment of low-carbon and renewable gases in heavy-duty transport. All to exchange views on the “unprecented” year just past.

Vice-president of the European Commission, Maroš Šefčovič, welcomed the conference as an opportunity to discuss solutions, given that “Europe has faced an unprecedented energy crisis in the wake of Putin’s invasion of Ukraine” - a crisis he said continued to threaten “the competitiveness of Europe and our social model”.

In addition to a keynote by MEP Jerzy Buzek, Eurogas also warmly welcomed the CEO of Naftogaz of Ukraine, Oleksiy Chernyshov. Mr Chernyshov spoke of his task to secure the stable provision of gas and heating services to more than 12.5 million Ukrainian households, as well as municipalities, cities, central heating plants, electric plants, and industry.

“Russia is trying to deprive Ukrainians of basic services: electricity, gas, heating, water and more. But all this just encourages Ukrainians to fight and stand united.”

In Brussels, our speakers stressed that critical work was being conducted to enhance solidarity within the EU, where “energy security and the energy transition go hand in hand”.

Cristina Lobillo Borrero of the Commission’s DG ENER recalled that in 2022, six legislative packages in energy had been adopted – an equally "unprecedented" effort. 

Ms Lobillo Borerro said: “This was aimed at reducing gas consumption in the EU, but also accelerating the energy transition. And the third effort has been to replace Russian gas. In one year we replaced over 70 bcm of gas, towards more reliable partners in the United States, Azerbaijian, Norway and Algeria.”

“Last year the Council of the EU put in more specific measures to increase solidarity among member states to support each other in terms of crises, in particular security of supply. And we also created the energy platform task force,” she said, adding that the crisis was “not over yet”.

“Obviously we want to completely replace oil and coal for gas. We want to cooperate with our partners [abroad] who are suppliers of gas, and we also want to work with them to reduce methane emissions. We believe it’s possible to produce gas in a cleaner way, and this is why our next steps include intense work on methane emissions reduction.” 

Indeed Eurogas president Didier Holleaux welcomed “the efforts by the EC in terms of securing natural gas from new suppliers.”

Mr Holleaux said: “ Energy security in the context created by Russia’s aggression against Ukraine makes it more necessary than ever to ensure we will have the natural gas we need to ensure smooth conditions in Europe for the years to come. We welcome the words of vice-president Maroš Šefčovič reminding us that natural gas is a part of the energy transition, and that long-term contracts are necessary, and that what is prohibited is unabated natural gas by 2049.”

In this respect, the conference also dealt with the deployment of low-carbon and renewable gases in transport – a theme introduced during a special speech on biomethane by Landwarme CEO, Zoltan Elek.

Whereas the first panel session on emergency measures welcomed contributions by Agora Energiewende, SPP, ACER and the European Commission, the second took a closer look at heavy-duty transport specifically.

‘The future of renewable and low-carbon gases in heavy-duty transport’ was an opportunity for NGVA Europe, Westport Fuel Systems, Transport & Environment, and IRU to take the floor. 

Timm Kehler, Nadège Leclercq, Julia Poliscanova, and Katinka von Bonin provided a wide range of views over what next steps could be taken to decarbonise transport, and the specific applications of low-carbon gases..

Didier Holleaux added: “as far as heavy-duty vehicles are concerned, biomethane and hydrogen are part of the solution. Obviously, many vehicles will use batteries and batteries only, but a lot of them will need other means to ensure they have the autonomy required whilst emitting zero carbon.”

Mr Holleaux also remarked that Eurogas remained “committed to the reduction of the carbon footprint of the gas industry, committed to net zero before 2050, and fighting against methane emissions.” 

“We also welcome that in the Net Zero Industry Act, the European Commission has recognised biomethane and electrolysers as strategic industries for Europe. Without these technologies, and also CCS, it will be close to impossible to reach net zero by 2050.”

Closing the conference, Ditte Juul Jørgensen, Director General of DG ENER at the European Commission, noted that policies had to “address both the climate crisis, and the energy crisis”:

“We need to keep our 2050 objectives in mind. There is no energy security without energy transition, and there is no energy transition without energy security."

The full recording of the conference is available online: [YouTube]