Frontier study: ‘green gas’ makes decarbonisation cheaper, safer and more acceptable

Frontier study: ‘green gas’ makes decarbonisation cheaper, safer and more acceptable

A study by Frontier Economics analysing the contribution that the existing gas infrastructure can make to a (virtually) carbon-neutral German energy system in 2050 was published today in Berlin. Based on a comprehensive analysis of the entire German energy system, the study finds that gas storage facilities will continue to be essential for long-term energy storage, as there is unlikely to be a comparable electricity storage technology available in the foreseeable future.

The project was run in collaboration with the Institute of Power Systems and Power Economics at Aachen University, 4 Management and EMCEL, on behalf of the Association of Transmission System Operators.

It is widely accepted that a large part of Germany’s ambitious carbon emissions reduction should come through the use of renewable electricity in the heating, transport and industry sectors (“sector coupling”). However, in the future it is not clear how energy will be transported to the final consumer, or how it will be stored. Gas infrastructure could be used to transport ‘green’ gas, produced either by anaerobic digestion (biogas), or synthetically from renewable electricity (power-to-gas). The report finds in particular that:

  • The use of gas grids could reduce annual system costs by around €12 billion per year, even after factoring in the additional costs for power-to-gas plants and the conversion losses from producing synthetic gas.
  • Using existing gas infrastructure would reduce the need to expand the electricity transmission system, helping make decarbonisation more acceptable.
  • As import capacity is much greater for gas than for electricity, gas grids would strengthen the security of energy supply.

An English summary of the study is available here.

Frontier regularly advises public and private clients on decarbonisation, sector coupling and energy transition issues.

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