Challenges in the transition to renewable and low-carbon gases while maintaining security of supply

Challenges in the transition to renewable and low-carbon gases while maintaining security of supply

Decarbonising our infrastructure with renewable and low-carbon gas while maintaining security of supply – how can coordination help in the transition? 

Amidst the global call for sustainable energy, more renewable and low-carbon gases will need to be integrated into European gas infrastructure. Coordination across the gas and hydrogen value chains will be essential for managing this transition in a cost-efficient way while ensuring security of supply (SoS) in the gas world. 

In our study commissioned by Gas Infrastructure Europe (GIE), we identify short-term challenges for the integration of more renewable and low-carbon gases while maintaining SoS and propose solutions related to enhanced coordination. 

These challenges can be grouped into five overarching themes: the coordination between the methane, electricity and hydrogen systems (cross-vector coordination), the coordination among market players across country borders, the (re-)definition of SoS in light of the integration of a new energy carrier, the establishment of a new governance for hydrogen as well as the alignment of market player’s incentives to repurpose infrastructure. 

Enhanced coordination can play a pivotal role in overcoming these challenges in the short-term. The findings point to four areas in this respect: 

  • Setting-up dynamic planning and funding measures: Low-key bi- or multilateral agreements, fast allocation of funding and adjusted planning procedures that match the hydrogen market dynamics are needed to kickstart the hydrogen market. 
  • Preserving methane system integrity: During the transition to sustainable or low-carbon gases it remains important to ensure SoS in the methane system. This can be supported by regular publications of transparency and status reports of hydrogen projects and repurposing plans, the development of logistical solutions to enable all flows of gases as well as commitments by infrastructure operators to prove that methane system integrity is not affected by hydrogen projects. 
  • Assessing methane/hydrogen storage needs and potential at European level: Storages are a pillar of SoS in energy systems. Assessing the needs and potential of storages at a pan-European level is an initial stepping stone towards storage needs being met across gaseous vectors. 
  • Integrating new hydrogen market participants in the transition process: The introduction of a new energy carrier requires a shift in the behaviour of market participants and consumers. Ensuring the inclusivity of existing coordination mechanisms and implementing hydrogen-specific approaches where necessary can help integrating new market participants seamlessly. 

Download the full study here