Mediaroom RSS feed Mediaroom Sun, 19 Aug 2018 06:20:46 GMT en-en Availability, environmental performance and fuel costs: key factors for policymakers to consider ahead of votes on CO2 targets for cars} Mon, 25 Jun 2018 00:00:00 GMT GasNaturally, a platform of six associations from across the whole gas value chain, calls on the European Parliament committees to factor in the benefits of gas in transport when voting on the CO2 targets for cars proposal in July and September. Gas in transport is a mature and available technology, and it is a cost-efficient solution to reduce carbon emissions and improve air quality.

GasNaturally shares concerns expressed by ACEA on the need to consider affordable solutions when defining CO2 targets for cars. Prohibiting European consumers from accessing more affordable energy sources would strongly affect the CO2 reductions efforts in the transport sector. Instead, opting for a technology-neutral approach would guarantee a fair comparison of the CO2 footprint among different powertrains. It will help open the European markets to all available solutions and ensure full affordability across the high, medium and low-wealth EU Members States.

Affordability is a major factor in consumer uptake – market surveys show that in some regions an electric vehicle would need to cost €15 - €17K to be affordable to an average consumer.  This price is far from being the reality now. In contrast, gas cars are already affordable, and so is gas itself. Not only does gas help consumers to save on fuel, it also helps reduce climate-related emissions from transport.

Furthermore, the gas technology is ready and able to switch to a blend of renewable and natural gas, whereas the existing gas infrastructure can also accommodate the growing share of renewable gas.

Concentrating  efforts and resources on a single solution, in this case on electricity, would lead to limited emissions reductions results. It would also significantly delay the much needed GHG emission reductions in the transport sector – something that can be achieved with gas already today! The EU policymakers should look at all the readily-available and affordable solutions without forcing the system to accelerate only in one direction at the expense of consumers.

Letter to the Energy Council} Fri, 08 Jun 2018 00:00:00 GMT Ms  Temenuzhka Petkova
Chair of the Energy Council
Minister of Energy
Triaditsa Str. 8
Sofia, 1000



Letter to the Energy Council meeting on 11 June 2018


Dear Minister Petkova,
Dear Ministers of the EU Member States,


The adoption of the “Clean Energy for All Europeans” package will be a milestone in the energy transition. GasNaturally - representing more than 300 companies along the gas value chain - appreciates the efforts of the Bulgarian Presidency in that respect.

The gas industry has been delivering reliable, affordable and cleaner fuel to the EU consumers for decades and we are ready to play a key role to support the EU in its climate and energy goals.

In view of your meeting on 11 June, we would like to highlight key opportunities offered by gas to help the EU reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, while ensuring energy security, flexibility and affordability.

Governance Regulation

As Member States are preparing integrated national energy and climate plans and long-term low-emission strategies, here are some of the solutions that our industry can offer to ensure the most affordable and effective energy transition:

- Substitution of coal with gas in power generation

- Backup of variable renewables with gas-fired generation

- Combined heat and hydrogen used in industry

- Highly efficient domestic heating appliances, including gas/electric hybrid technology

- Transport solutions, including the use of liquefied natural gas for trucks and ships

- The expansion of biomethane production and injection into gas grids

- Sector coupling through power-to-gas technology

- Carbon capture and storage/use in connection with various uses of gas

Renewable Energy Directive

Europe’s 2050 decarbonisation objectives can be reached more affordably by integrating renewable gas alongside renewable electricity[1]. Equitable treatment of renewable electricity and renewable gas in the Directive will make this happen. More specific references to renewable gases, e.g. biomethane, as well as hydrogen and synthetic gas produced with surplus renewable electricity, would help achieve this.

Energy Efficiency Directive

A switch to gas from higher-carbon fuels not only reduces carbon dioxide emissions cost-effectively, it also provides gains in energy efficiency. For example, replacing a traditional oil boiler with a condensing gas boiler delivers efficiency gains of up to 65%. Micro-CHP and gas heat pumps rank even better at A++.

For these reasons, it is essential that the default Primary Energy Factor for electricity corresponds to the efficiency of the current EU energy mix. Otherwise, inefficient heating equipment would be moved into higher labelling classes.


Member States should have full flexibility in achieving the targets. This is crucial to ensure maximum and the most cost-effective progress because significant levels of investment will be required to meet the EU’s climate goals and inefficient use of funds would only place an unnecessary financial burden on consumers.

The chosen targets should not influence the development of the carbon price under the ETS Directive, which will continue to be a powerful and cost-effective tool to reduce GHG emissions and to achieve compliance with the Paris Agreement. The ETS is growing even more in significance as since 2014 GHG emissions in the EU only declined in 2016 (by 0.4% compared with 2015), and increased again in 2017 (by 0.3% compared with the previous year).

Phasing out higher carbon fuels is very important. The UK has drastically reduced its carbon dioxide emissions in power generation thanks to phasing out coal and increasing the use of natural gas and renewables.

I wish you successful discussions,

Marco Alverà

President of GasNaturally

[1]€140bn savings a year, according to the Gas for Climate Consortium

Building energy infrastructure is not a zero-sum game} Fri, 27 Apr 2018 00:00:00 GMT This opinion piece was first published in Euractiv on 27 April

Full electrification does not mean decarbonisation, writes Marco Alverà. 
Infrastructure which carries natural gas today will be needed in future to carry increasing amounts of biomethane, green hydrogen as well as to store energy more efficiently than power lines or batteries, he argues.

Anyone following energy and climate discussions in Brussels is likely to have witnessed the backlash against the latest PCI list for including a number of cross-border gas infrastructure projects.

In my role as President of GasNaturally and CEO of Snam, I would like to address here the concerns of MEPs who took up the pen to express their opposition to the list or to announce their Group’s opposition to any future PCI lists containing projects which would “not contribute to the decarbonisation of our energy landscape.”

Gas can decarbonise: not a zero-sum game

I would first challenge the basic idea that natural gas is ‘just another fossil fuel’. The intrinsic values of gas make it an energy source which achieves a unique balance between cleanliness, flexibility, dispatchability, efficiency and, importantly for EU consumers, affordability.

Second, investments in gas infrastructure should not be seen in opposition to other investments in renewables and energy efficiency. The same infrastructure which carries natural gas today will be needed to carry increasing amounts of biomethane, synthetic gas from power-to-gas, and green hydrogen – all renewable sources of energy – and it already allows for large-scale transportation and storage of energy in a substantially more cost-efficient manner than high-voltage lines or batteries.

From an emissions perspective, when existing powerlines are used to carry electricity generated by coal or lignite power plants – by far the most polluting power plants in Europe (see Sandbag’s analysis) – alternative PCI gas pipelines directly contribute to decarbonisation. In the long term and in addition to renewable gas, they may also carry zero-carbon blue hydrogen, made by stripping natural gas of its CO2 and storing it in depleted oil & gas fields.

Why we build gas infrastructure

Projects selected on PCI lists are assessed against a specific set of criteria: they need to have a cross-border influence, contribute to market and EU network integration, diversification of sources, increase competition to benefit consumers, improve security of supply, contribute to EU climate & energy goals, and facilitate the integration of variable renewable energy sources.

EU Member States build pipelines or LNG terminals to bring an alternative, affordable and cleaner source of energy to EU citizens. It is not about ‘locking’ gas into Europe, but about making sure that all Europeans – including us writing and reading these pages – can keep warm during a dark and windless winter cold spell, the EU’s industry can function all year, and our lights can be switched on when needed.

A country like Malta, which recently shifted from highly polluting heavy fuel oil to natural gas in power generation, is seeking a PCI gas interconnector to Italy as an alternative to its only LNG import terminal. Following the initial GHG and pollutant emissions reduction, the additional competition will help reduce costs for consumers.

Should Member States, especially less integrated ones, be denied the right to the diversified, liquid supply that Northwest Europe enjoys?

Full electrification is not decarbonisation

Too often in Europe, there is confusion between decarbonisation and electrification, and many have somehow been led to believe that full electrification is the silver bullet to reducing GHG emissions.

However, it is increasingly recognised that this is not the case, for various reasons:

Firstly, coal and lignite will only very gradually be phased out of electricity production.

Secondly, only 20% of our energy needs are currently met by electricity. Increasing this, as recent studies (Ecofys, Primes) have shown, requires large investments in electricity infrastructure, causing public acceptance issues with the construction of high-voltage power cables and in particular social issues with respect to the costs to consumers. How will we solve energy poverty if we impose electricity on all Europeans, which is already today around four times more expensive per kWh than natural gas?

Thirdly, there is currently no electric solution to seasonal fluctuation of demand. How will we make sure Europeans can keep warm during the winter if we do not make use of an efficient gas grid?

How will we guarantee a stable supply of electricity from an ever-larger share of variable renewables and a shrinking share of coal and perhaps nuclear, in the absence of affordable and large-scale baseload, backup, and most importantly energy storage solutions?

How will we keep our energy-intensive industry in Europe if we deprive them from the reliable source of heat and feedstock it needs for its production processes, be it natural gas today or hydrogen tomorrow?

If ‘efficiency first’ is to be more than a slogan indeed, then all efficiency gains should be recognised and valued as such. Non-electric sources of heating such as thermal solar, geothermal energy, gas, and others, have the potential to enable substantial GHG savings in a more cost-efficient manner than pursuing a policy of full electrification.

Putting the consumer first, not technology

Gas can be produced from renewable sources, for example biomethane from waste or biomass, synthetic methane and hydrogen from wind and solar energy in power-to-gas facilities. These new technologies will need the support of EU finance mechanisms and PCI status in order for the industry to contribute to achieving EU climate targets, fostering sectoral integration and ultimately to creating synergies between electricity and gas systems.

The value of gas PCIs resides in more than the volumes they will carry – it’s about securing energy supply, not just gas supply and enhancing diversification and real supply competition. It is about increasing the share of renewables, higher energy efficiency, affordability, consumer choice, and keeping industry in Europe.

Our industry calls for sustainable goals which support research and innovation and wide deployment in technologies such as biomethane, power to gas and gas for transport.

The choice is not between gas and electricity. The choice is between whether or not the EU will have a secure and cost-efficient low-carbon energy system.

Sustainable finance: Enhanced role of natural and renewable gas could speed delivery of EU’s climate goals} Thu, 22 Mar 2018 00:00:00 GMT GasNaturally notes with interest the European Commission’s Action Plan on Sustainable Finance, released on March 8, but argues that to deliver the fullest benefits, the contribution gas can make to social and environmental sustainability targets must also be recognised. 

“Natural gas is a cost-effective, near-term solution to reducing CO2 emissions and air pollution which will enhance the EU’s ability to deliver its climate and energy policy goals,” said Marco Alverà, President of GasNaturally.

The gas industry points out that natural gas and liquefied natural gas could contribute to rapid decarbonisation of the transportation sector, especially heavy-duty vehicles and maritime vessels, significantly improving air quality.

Gas has a role in sustainable development

GasNaturally is aligned with High-Level Expert Group on Sustainable Finance’s view that “sustainability means making economic prosperity long-lasting, more socially inclusive” and would like to see specific recognition that gas will play a key role in building a sustainable and circular economy, which balances environmental, economic and social considerations.

European energy policies, in which gas plays a key role, are already based upon sustainability, security of supply, and industrial competitiveness. Gas in all its forms - natural gas, biomethane, hydrogen, renewable gas from power-to-gas process - relies on infrastructure that already exists, is already largely amortized, is practically invisible and is proven safe and reliable. Natural gas can contribute to improving efficiency and, with relatively small investments, continue to provide supply security and resiliency. 

This is why we are wary of some elements accompanying the Action Plan that show a narrow focus on particular technologies and solutions. For example the climate mitigation criteria for investment in distribution and transmission systems in the draft Sustainability taxonomy are based on primary screening metrics that give clear privilege to the integration of renewables without taking into account the costs and the resilience of the whole energy system.

Prescriptive approaches should be avoided

GasNaturally supports a broad approach to sustainability aligned with the EU’s goals that is applicable to all types of assets and capital allocation.  A prescriptive approach could deprive the European energy system of the benefits offered by the existing gas network and close the door to innovative sources of renewable energy such as power-to-gas, waste-to-hydrogen, and gas-to-hydrogen, which rely on the gas network.

The integration of variable renewables comes with technical and financial implications for the grid. Natural gas and its infrastructure are already in place and can store, carry and dispatch large amounts of energy at any time, and at a fraction of the cost of a system which relies on electricity transmission and storage only.

In the upcoming work on the new classification of sustainable assets, the following elements need to be considered:


·       Deployment of renewable electricity production will be limited without sufficient energy storage. Stable energy supply should be valued by investors since any disruption in the energy system could lead to substantial economic damage. The gas network can provide that storage affordably, therefore lifting some of this risk and eventually lowering end-use costs. 

·       Gas grids are able to carry increasing volumes of renewable gases - biogas, biomethane and hydrogen - used in key sectors of the economy: heating, transport, and power generation. This potential needs to be reflected in any classification of infrastructure assets.

·       Transparency about the costs and benefits of different pathways of energy transition is required to provide accurate information to consumers on the cost implications of various energy sources and energy infrastructure upgrades.

Sustainable Development Goals should underpin all new initiatives and policies driving private and public investment

Long-term planning should be the priority when mobilising private and public capital. Energy infrastructure development is typically linked to long-term investment. The right financing framework would help investors support gas infrastructure projects with a long-term perspective, while taking full account of the EU energy and climate targets. It is therefore a question of matching projects and investors interested in long-term stability and sustainability.  Introduction of a “green” category of assets, even if only through a voluntary label at first, will not help in building a holistic and knowledge-based approach to sustainable energy systems of the future. Classification of gas technologies outside of the “green” investments would effectively preclude a much needed boost from private investors to very promising technologies such as:

  • High-efficiency CCGTs
  • Biogas and biomethane
  • Carbon Capture and Storage//Carbon Capture and Utilisation
  • Large-scale production of hydrogen
  • Renewable Power-to-gas

The International Energy Agency foresees a role for all of these technologies in its most ambitious, Sustainable Development Scenario in which climate, air quality and access to energy are addressed.

Press Release: Natural gas is a strong pillar of the future global energy mix, confirms IEA World Energy Outlook 2017} Tue, 14 Nov 2017 00:00:00 GMT Brussels, 14 November 2017: GasNaturally welcomes the positive prospects for natural gas as the only fossil fuel that sees growth, outlined in the International Energy Agency’s World Energy Outlook 2017 and its Special Focus on natural gas. The Outlook proves that gas is part of the solution to address climate change and achieve a low-carbon future rapidly.  

The new edition of the World Energy Outlook sees the long-term role of gas in the global energy mix and acknowledges its opportunities in power generation, transport and heating. “The IEA’s Outlook clearly confirms that gas will be a vital fuel of choice for decades to come. Tackling climate change and improving air quality are among the most pressing environmental issues of our time. Natural gas provides a solution to both,” says GasNaturally President Marco Alverà.

In addition to the environmental benefits of switching from coal to gas in power generation, the IEA recognises the vast potential of gas to curb emissions even further. This includes carbon capture and storage technologies, as well as the enrolment of renewables-based gases such as biogas or hydrogen. “The gas industry is already significantly investing in developing innovative solutions to lower CO2 emissions and increase energy efficiency. Cutting-edge technologies such as CCS and power-to-gas have considerable potential for growth,” adds Marco Alverà

The gas industry is committed to reducing methane emissions and minimising the environmental footprint of gas use. Its initiatives have already led to considerable progress: methane emissions from natural gas operations have been nearly halved between 1990 and 2015, and they only account for 5% of EU methane emissions now, or 0.6% of overall EU GHG emissions[1]. Our aim as GasNaturally is to make gas an even better option for the environment by tackling the methane emissions issue head-on,” states Marco Alverà.

The IEA’s World Energy Outlook sees gas establishing itself as a strong pillar in the global energy mix, thanks to its flexibility and lower carbon emissions. The IEA also confirms the high potential of gas to improve urban air quality and thus contribute to human health as gas has lower levels of nitrogen oxides, virtually no sulphur dioxide or particulate matter, and no mercury emissions. The versatility of gas makes it interesting beyond a GHG emissions perspective. An increasing number of countries, such as China and India, are turning to gas as the key contributor to solve the severe urban air quality problems,” argues Marco Alverà. “Moving forward, we encourage all signatories of the Paris Agreement, and in particular the EU Member States, to lay down in their Nationally Determined Contributions the various ways in which gas can help reach their climate objectives.”

[1] Annual European Union greenhouse gas inventory 1990–2015 and inventory report 2017:


Press contact:   

Download this press release in pdf here.

Press Release: Letter to C40 Mayors from the President of GasNaturally} Thu, 04 Jan 2018 00:00:00 GMT Brussels, 4 January 2018: On the 22th December 2017 Marco Alvera the President of GasNaturally sent a letter presenting the benefits of gas as a vehicle fuel to the Mayors of C40 initiative - a global network of cities committed to addressing climate change.  The letter outlines the key environmental, health and economic benefits of a switch to gas in transport and it welcomes the recent uptake of gas-fuelled vehicles in public transport services in two European capitals. The letter was delivered to Anne Hidalgo the Chair of C40 and Mayor of Paris, and to the Mayors of cities at the forefront of sustainable transport development.


Brussels, 22 December 2017

Dear Mayors, 

On behalf of GasNaturally, a European partnership of six associations that represent the entire gas value chain, I am writing to you to present innovative solutions that could best improve the air quality in your cities.

Air quality is one of the largest environmental challenges that municipalities are currently facing. Despite the strengthening of emissions standards, particulate matter strongly affects air quality, often leading to respiratory and other health problems among urban populations.

To improve air quality, on top of technological breakthroughs, political courage is needed to promote a cultural change in how citizens use energy and to ensure the economic sustainability of city-led initiatives.  

Compressed Natural Gas (CNG) and Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) vehicles are ready, mature, and affordable solutions to improve cities’ air quality. Given the low capital expenditures required to convert gasoline-powered vehicles to natural gas, fleet renewals can be quickly accelerated. CNG-powered cars can achieve over 90% reduction of particulate matter and emit more than 30% less CO2 than petrol cars, without need for subsidies and without compromising on performance, as the engine is the same (see Annex I).

Natural gas is also the best partner to support low-emission mobility through wider use of renewable energy sources. For example, renewable gas produced from biomass conversion of municipal waste and/or from renewable electricity via power-to-gas processes is fully compatible with existing CNG vehicles. 

GasNaturally welcomes the recent decisions of two major cities. Madrid’s public transport company, EMT, announced that it will order more environmentally-friendly natural gas-fuelled buses, reaching 75% of its fleet by 2019. Equally positive is the adoption of alternative fuels by companies providing services to the City of Paris.

In conclusion, natural gas offers cost-effective and clean solutions to improve air quality and address climate change challenges. Further, it is readily available to any city in the world that aims at providing its citizens with cleaner air. At GasNaturally we are keen to promote additional ideas to foster progress in municipalities.  We would be delighted to further discuss the cleaner solutions gas can deliver to the C40 cities and remain at your disposal to provide you with any additional information.


Yours sincerely,

Marco Alverà


GasNaturally President




Ms Anne Hidalgo, Mayor of Paris, Chair of C40 Cities


Mr Sadiq Khan, Mayor of London

Mr Eric Garcetti, Mayor of Los Angeles

Mr Frank Jensen, Mayor of Copenhagen

Ms Ada Colau, Mayor of Barcelona

Mr Mauricio Rodas Espinel, Mayor of Quito

Mr Gregor Robertson, Mayor of Vancouver

Mr Miguel Mancera, Mayor of Mexico City

Mr Giuseppe Sala, Mayor of Milan

Ms Jenny Durkan, Mayor of Seattle

Mr Phil Goff, Mayor of Auckland

Ms Patricia de Lille, Mayor of Cape Town



Annex I


Adding natural gas vehicles to the fleet renewal process is more effective and cost-efficient than focusing only on electric vehicles. Renewing a bus fleet with natural gas-fuelled vehicles delivers greater environmental benefits than doing so with electric vehicles for the same cost.

Cities have a particular interest in reducing non-methane hydrocarbons (NMHC). Due to the presence of nitrogen oxide in the atmosphere, when combined with sunlight these emissions have a direct harmful effect on the human respiratory tract. They also cause acidification and are therefore damaging to plants. As the formation of NMHCs in gas is particularly low, when compared with conventional fuels, natural gas offers ten times less reactivity to ozone formation. Under the Worldwide Harmonized Light Vehicles Test Cycles (WLTC) recently adopted in Europe, natural gas vehicles have the lowest level of ozone precursor formation.

Finally, reducing particulate matter can significantly improve air quality. Again, the use of natural gas in vehicle engines comes out ahead: tests show that engines using natural gas have up to 97% lower particulate emissions compared with those using conventional fuels.

Press contact:


Innovation @ GasWeek 2016} Thu, 13 Oct 2016 00:00:00 GMT 21-24 November 2016 (Strasbourg, France)

Gas Week has become a signature event on the EU calendar, enabling industry stakeholders and EU policymakers to come together and discuss the future of Europe’s climate and energy policy.  This year’s edition will consist of a number of events in the European Parliament in Strasbourg, France.

Innovative technologies will play a key role in achieving Energy Union and climate goals. With this in mind, Gas Week 2016 aims to highlight how gas can play an active role in driving innovation and new solutions across sectors. 

Gas Week 2016 will bring together high-level speakers from the public and private sector to offer fresh perspectives on topics ranging from partnering gas and renewables, and decarbonizing transport, to improving urban air quality. You can follow our Gas Week events on our website and on social media throughout the week. Don’t miss your opportunity to join the conversation @GasNaturally on Twitter!

We look forward to welcoming you! 

Watch new GasNaturally President Marco Alvera’s welcome message} Wed, 12 Jul 2017 00:00:00 GMT Marco Alverà, President of GasNaturally and CEO of SNAM, explains how natural gas can contribute to reaching the EU’s climate and energy targets by reducing emissions, tackling energy poverty and integrating renewables into the energy system.

Watch video here

IOGP's Positions on the Clean Energy Package} Fri, 07 Jul 2017 00:00:00 GMT Delivering a flexible, resilient and secure market: IOGP response to the proposal on Power Market Design

IOGP recommendations for a reliable and transparent governance system of the Energy Union

Integration of renewables under market conditions: IOGP response to the revised Renewables Directive

IOGP contribution to the debate on the Energy Efficiency Directive

Debate hosted by MEP Adina-Ioana Valean finds gas is key to delivering effective & affordable Clean Energy Package} Tue, 04 Jul 2017 00:00:00 GMT

A dinner debate on the Clean Energy Package, hosted last night in the European Parliament by MEP Adina-Ioana Valean, Chairwoman of the ENVI Committee, found that gas is a flexible and an affordable fuel which can reduce carbon emissions and improve air quality in all energy sectors.

In her remarks, MEP Valean emphasised that gas can contribute to achieving the energy transition. “Natural gas, which is still largely produced in Europe, can help in achieving the objectives of the Clean Energy Package in a cost-effective way and reduce emissions in heating, power generation and transport,” said Ms V?lean.

The newly appointed GasNaturally President, Marco Alverà, who is also the CEO of the Italian gas TSO Snam, added: “The gas industry sees the Clean Energy Package as a key step forward in putting consumers back at the heart of energy policies and reinforcing energy market principles.”

Mr Alverà further stressed that the most cost-effective way to achieve the EU’s climate and energy goals is to combine gas and renewable electricity. “Ensuring access to both clean and affordable energy is clearly a priority for Europe and for our industry. As the EU prepares to tackle this issue, it will be crucial to keep in mind that gas is three times cheaper than electricity,[1]said Mr Alverà.

He added that domestic gas production, the existing gas infrastructure, including storage and LNG, help to create a liquid market and provide the flexibility needed to integrate an increasing share of variable renewables into the EU energy mix. “What is more, gas can also be renewable, efficiently transported and stored in the existing infrastructure, thus facilitating Europe’s energy transition,” – concluded GasNaturally President.

Together with Marco Alverà, GasNaturally and its members will continue dialogue with EU policymakers and stakeholders on the secure and resilient energy system for EU consumers.



[1] Report ‘Energy prices and costs in Europe’, European Commission, COM (2016) 769 final.

Gas is one of the safest bets for EU’s energy and climate success} Tue, 04 Jul 2017 00:00:00 GMT Europe will need gas to make renewables work. One of my principal aims as the new president of GasNaturally will be to engage with our partners and policymakers and explain why gas is one of the safest bets if we want EU energy and climate policy to be a success, writes Marco Alverà.

Marco Alverà is the president of GasNaturally, a grouping of European gas explorers, producers and distributors.

At this stage, the advantages of gas as a cleaner alternative to coal are well known. But there is one aspect which is sometimes overlooked in the pursuit of delivering policy: affordability.

If consumers have difficulties paying their bills due to costs associated with the greater share of renewables in the energy mix, the transition to a cleaner system could face strong opposition from the public.

If governments choose this path, they will face a public backlash at some point and will have to slow the adoption of cleaner technologies, jeopardising the overall process. There is a risk that if consumers can’t have affordable heating, they will make their governments feel the heat. Governments need gas to ensure that renewables are accepted by the public. Gas is needed to make renewables work.

There are a few things we can do, however, to achieve a low-carbon economy at a lower price tag.

We already know that switching away from coal to gas in power generation – where coal contributes around 80% of the sector’s carbon emissions – will cut CO2 emissions by half. This can be done by restarting existing gas plants and even converting coal plants to gas plants at a limited cost.

When it comes to heating, electrification raises costs for consumers. In Europe, electricity is three times more expensive than gas per kWh. Despite falling prices for certain technologies, this gap is expected to widen in the years to come as electricity infrastructure needs to be reinforced and large-scale storage becomes necessary. In terms of efficiency, gas appliances are among the most efficient and cheapest to run, especially compared to electric versions.

Gas – compressed natural gas (CNG) and liquefied natural gas (LNG) – is also well suited for transport, representing a cost-effective solution for reducing carbon emissions and improving air quality. Beyond the road transport sector, these technologies are also able to deliver environmental benefits for the marine sector, when used in river barges and sea/ocean-going ships.

Some advocate mass electrification of various sectors as the best way forward. However, this would jeopardise the security of energy supply, restrict choices and unnecessarily add cost to consumers’ bills due to the large investments that would be needed to renew and expand electricity infrastructure in a short time.

Existing gas infrastructure can carry energy across the continent at a much lower cost than new electricity infrastructure. It can simultaneously provide the option of large-scale energy storage by converting excess electricity from solar and wind sources into synthetic gas.

R&D funding should therefore focus on emerging technologies, such as carbon capture and storage, power-to-hydrogen or methane, and any other promising, non-mature technologies. Subsidies for mature technologies, which are already competitive, only inflate consumer energy bills and need to be phased out.

Finally, the safe production of gas here in Europe deserves to be maximised to preserve and extend diversification of energy supplies, create jobs and a strong supply chain, and generate government revenues.

Our industry is committed to helping the EU achieve its climate and energy objectives. We are also committed to providing affordable energy to consumers. But we will only succeed in modernising our energy system if European consumers support this effort, which is conditional on their ability to pay their bills.

In short, our objective is clear: to rapidly build a cleaner, reliable and affordable energy system for all consumers. The optimum, direct route to achieving this is by combining natural gas and renewables.

If we do not get the approach right, we risk alienating consumers, who are crucial in enabling the energy transition.

Let’s prove that clean energy and affordable bills can go together.

Snam CEO Marco Alverà appointed first GasNaturally President} Tue, 13 Jun 2017 00:00:00 GMT BRUSSELS, June 13th, 2017: Marco Alverà, Chief Executive Officer of Snam, has been appointed as the first President of GasNaturally, the partnership representing the European gas industry.

“I am pleased and honoured to serve as GasNaturally President,” said Mr. Alverà. “Tackling climate challenge and improving air quality in our communities are two of the most pressing issues of our time. Natural gas can help find a solution to both.”

“I look forward to fostering the cooperation within our industry and with the renewable energy industry to underline the crucial role that gas can play in producing electricity, heating our homes as well as in powering our transport. Modern technologies are making gas a compelling and readily available fuel to achieve EU 2030 targets and beyond.” – added Mr. Alverà.

A graduate in Philosophy and Economics from the London School of Economics, Marco Alverà has considerable experience in the natural gas business and, more generally, in the energy sector. During his career, he has held positions of increasing responsibility first at Enel, where between 2002 and 2004 he closely followed the development of the gas business of the company and the IPO of Terna, and at Eni, where between 2005 and 2015 he managed the most important domestic and international matters in the natural gas business. He was appointed CEO of Snam in April 2016.

“GasNaturally’s members and myself look forward to continuing our constructive dialogue with EU policymakers and stakeholders on the solutions needed to position gas as a pillar of a sustainable energy mix and deliver the energy transition in a way which benefits all and leaves no consumer behind” Mr. Alverà stated.

Download this press release in pdf here

Eurogas views on the Proposal for a Directive of the European Parliament and of the Council on the Promotion of the Use of Energy from Renewable Sources (Recast)} Tue, 06 Jun 2017 00:00:00 GMT More gas use in 2015 and 2016 makes CO2 emissions tumble} Mon, 10 Apr 2017 00:00:00 GMT Position Note on the Impact Assessment SWD (2016) 405 final and the PEF value proposed for the EED} Mon, 10 Apr 2017 00:00:00 GMT Eurogas views on the Energy Efficiency Directive and the Energy Performance of Buildings Directive} Tue, 28 Mar 2017 00:00:00 GMT Implementing the Energy Union – Gas helps turning ideas into action} Wed, 01 Feb 2017 00:00:00 GMT The Energy Union was one of the major initiatives that the present European Commission launched when it was appointed in 2014. It even created a specific Vice-President position to oversee its execution.

More than two years on – and thousands of pages in legislative documents later – the Commission is now getting to grip with the implementation of the Energy Union.

Listening to the Vice-President for the Energy Union Maros Sefcovic going through his second State of the Energy Union speech, I have to say I feel proud to see how our industry, and GasNaturally, are contributing to turn ideas into action.

Here are four key elements:

  • Energy poverty: putting the consumer at the centre. Ensuring access to affordable energy is clearly a priority for Europe. As the EU prepares to tackle the issue, it will be crucial to keep in mind that gas is three times cheaper than electricity, according to the EU’s own numbers. And this is certainly not a call to increase taxes on gas, but rather to recall a very important reality.[1]
  • Energy security: Alongside the more traditional gas pipe supplies, new Liquefied Natural Gas terminals are helping to diversify the sources of the EU gas supply. Building on a reliable, existent gas network, the ability to import LNG makes our supplies even more secure (don’t forget: more than half of the gas the EU uses is produced domestically and in Norway).   
  • Energy efficiency: This is really not rocket science - consuming less energy makes it cleaner, more secure and cheaper. A large part of European citizens use gas to heat their homes and their water, which means that a switch to new boilers – that are much more efficient – could save them good money, just as it would limit greenhouse gas emissions.  
  • Decarbonization: I left this last because this is Europe’s ultimate, overarching priority: deliver on its climate ambitions and on the Paris Agreement. The best demonstration that gas can easily help deliver on these goals is fresh data from a joint analysis of two environmental think-tanks, Sandbag and Agora Energiewende: “EU power emissions fell 4.5% in 2016, primarily through a huge switch from coal generation to gas generation,” they said in presenting their most recent report.

The European gas industry is committed to help Vice-President Maros Sefcovic and his team to deliver on the Energy Union objectives.

By François-Régis Mouton, Chairman of GasNaturally

[1]   Report ‘Energy prices and costs in Europe’, European Commission, COM(2016) 769 final. Figure 3 in this report shows that the energy component of average EU household retail electricity prices equals around 75€/MWh, and for industry – slightly over 50€/MWh (Figure 6). Figure 10 shows that the energy component of average EU household retail gas prices accounts for around 35€/MWh, and for industry – slightly over 25€/MWh (Figure 12).

What future for gas in a decarbonised world?} Wed, 25 Jan 2017 00:00:00 GMT Gas markets are at a crossroad. Not long ago, it was common to see headlines such as “Gas, no longer the fuel of choice” or “The golden age of gas: gone for good?” Did that mean the end of gas as a result of the rapid expansion of renewable energy?

Then, natural gas became known as the “bridge fuel”. Given that natural gas is the least carbon intensive fossil fuel, and that it will take time to scale-up Renewable Energy Sources (RES) sufficiently to meet the Paris Agreement (PA) objectives, some have suggested delivering the energy transition in two stages: first by moving from coal to natural gas, then from natural gas to RES. The latest IEA World Energy Outlook sees gas as the fastest growing fossil fuel and overtaking coal as the dominant fuel in the global energy mix. This is why gas became known as the “transition fuel” or “bridge fuel”.  However, studies[1] have shown that the PA objectives could not be met only by substituting coal with gas. Moreover, it could lock in long lifetime investments in gas, which could become stranded assets as a result of RES growth.

The rapid expansion of RES does not mean the end of gas or relinquishing its “bridge fuel’ title. There is a third possibility, as in practice RES need gas. Gas and RES are complementary rather than substitute. Implementation of the PA requires full decarbonisation of the power systems. To integrate a high level of renewable energy, power systems need flexibility to cope with the stress resulting from sudden and unpredictable variations in availability, which is characteristic of renewable energy. And gas can provide the solution, as gas fired power generation units have short start-up times and rapid ramp-up rates, which means that they can provide more flexibility to a power system than any other power generation technologies (with the exception of pumped storage hydro). So natural gas is the balancing fuel of choice, to offset unexpected lack of availability of RES units.

However, natural gas can play the role of balancing fuel only if the gas system is itself sufficiently flexible. In a system with economic dispatching and a low level of RES, gas-fired power generation assets are usually operated to provide base-load or mid-merit power, or, in the case of simple cycle gas turbines, peaking power and gas consumption follows a predictable profile. In a system with high shares of variable RES where gas units are following the variable net load, the demand for gas at system and unit level becomes more variable and difficult to anticipate. The flexibility of gas-fired generators may be limited by the flexibility of the gas supply. To maintain flexibility, gas infrastructure will need the capability to handle sudden up and down swings in gas demand. Gas contracting practices can also affect supply flexibility.

Moreover, relegating gas to a mere backup fuel implies that much of the existing infrastructure may be underutilised, making it difficult to guarantee the profitability of gas power plants, and therefore attract investors. Capacity Remuneration Mechanisms (CRM) may then be justified. In that perspective, the “Energy Winter Package”, published by the Commission on the 30th November last year, limits eligibility to CRM to plants emitting less than 550gCO2/kWh. Only the most flexible and least CO2 intensive power plants meet that criteria, and they are mostly gas fired. Invariably, most gas-fired plants, with the exception of the oldest OCGTs, meet the criteria.

So there is a role for gas in a decarbonised world, but not an easy one.  To keep its position, gas has to change, adapt and be flexible. It needs to stay on its toes all the time, watching out for the rapidly declining cost of storage, batteries in particular, that may affect its role both as bridge fuel and balancing fuel, but especially the latter as storage can provide the balancing requirements for the whole power system.

By Silvia Pariente-David, Energy Consultant, formerly Senior Energy Specialist, World Bank

[1] Laconde Thibault, Accord de Paris : Quelles implications économiques et technologiques ?, Energie & Développement, April 2016

UK Energy Research Center, The Future Role of Gas in the UK, February 2016

The EU Power Market Design: planning for success, without discrimination} Tue, 22 Nov 2016 00:00:00 GMT The European Commission’s upcoming proposal for a new design of the electricity market will aim to set the bloc on track for lowering emissions and better integrate more variable renewables.

To be sustainable and limit the cost on Europe’s consumers, this proposal will have to be well thought-through. Among the essential consideration, policy makers should recognize that using existing flexibility offered by both gas fired power plant and gas infrastructure combined with renewables can form the core of the electricity system. Also, to achieve a truly integrated power market, they should ensure that subsidies are removed and that all the participants in the electricity market can compete on a level playing field.

Indeed, subsidies for mature technologies should be phased out.  Costs that are currently socialised should instead be targeted at those causing them.

This can be done through pricing of carbon emissions as well as charging full value for the provision of flexible plants to balance electricity production and also charging full value for transmission.

However, this is only one half of the story.

Another important element is non-discriminatory access to the market for all: no-one should be given priority. Along with the responsibility of bearing their costs, all market participants should also be offered the opportunity to generate revenue by providing services, for example in the balancing markets. Similarly, renewables should not be the only ones to be given priority when curtailments are required – the two go hand-in-hand.

The opening up of the UK gas market in the 1990s is a good example. Initially, new companies entering the market to sell their gas had no responsibility for balancing the system, with the incumbent having to retain responsibility for this. As the market share of the new entrants grew, this position became untenable and they had to take on responsibility of balancing their own portfolios. Crucially, they were also given an equal opportunity to generate revenue from the newly-created balancing market by bidding in flexibility available to them (both on the demand and supply side).

In today’s electricity market, it will be important to put in place incentives on both suppliers and consumers to balance demand and supply by ensuring that the prices emerging when the two don’t match do reflect the real-time cost of the electricity produced to re-balance that relationship. But, given that flexibility will become increasingly crucial, it will be equally important to open balancing markets to all types of electricity sources, with no discrimination.

A few other, more technical things need to be done as soon as possible: the introduction of a reference intraday market price before 2020; the shortening of the gate closure time and making full use of interconnection capacity.  Additionally, a European based approach to system adequacy should be adopted with a consistent approach being taken towards assessing the need for and if necessary the implementation of capacity remuneration mechanisms.


“Achieving a level playing field” is an abused expression – including in Brussels. It is however key here: we need to avoid any misallocation of costs and also any discrimination in terms of market access, if we are serious about ensuring that the power sector is able to further reduce carbon emissions, cost-effectively and without distorting the workings of the EU’s internal market. For the power market reforms to be a success, market participants must wholeheartedly embrace this principle rather than argue for exemptions.

By Malcolm Rice-Jones, Chairman of GasNaturally's Power Generation Task Force

Innovation with Gas} Mon, 21 Nov 2016 00:00:00 GMT  It is acknowledged that 80-95% decarbonisation will require a bold, integrated approach to building a new sort of energy system. The Energy Union recognises that in order that this transformation is delivered in a secure and affordable way to Europe’s citizens, we need a bold and innovative approach to make it a reality.

The move towards a future incorporating increasingly large amounts of renewable energy will help us achieve the goals of decarbonisation. However, making best use of the renewable resources available to us and integrating them into our energy system, requires us to look at how we can adapt what we have today to continue ensuring maximum security, reliability and cost-effectiveness in the future.  Trying to achieve deep levels of decarbonisation through electrification alone may prove to be challenging from a technical perspective, increasingly expensive and ultimately unsustainable.

In this context, the gas industry is embracing a paradigm shift concerning what its infrastructure can and will contribute for a future energy system. Unlike many forms of renewable energy, gaseous energy (i.e. gas in its ‘natural’ and renewable forms e.g. biogas/methane, synthetic gas) is dispatchable and storable. Moreover, gas networks can provide adaptable, responsive, efficient and reliable energy, readily accommodating rapid shifts in demand which often greatly exceed the entire capacity of national electricity transmission systems. Increasingly the gas networks can be, and indeed some already are, transporting renewable gas.

As more variable renewable energy is deployed in line with the EU’s ambitious targets, innovation will lead to improvements in energy efficiency, demand side response measures and improvements in batteries and other technologies for electricity storage. These are important developments, but alone will not achieve the extent of system flexibility we need to integrate variable renewables and achieve 80-95% CO2 reductions.

The amount of flexible, daily, and seasonal storage needed to cost effectively integrate more and more intermittent renewable generation will require an energy vector that can reconcile large swings in demand with swings in electricity production from variable renewable sources. Natural gas and its transmission and distribution networks are already providing such a vector. Additionally, substituting coal with gas in power generation can help in reducing CO2 emissions and will have a substantially positive impact on air quality and consequently on human health, especially in urban areas.   In the longer term, Carbon Capture and Storage (CCS) could play an important role in a low-emission energy system, further reducing emissions from gas-fired power plants, is currently being tested in other parts of the world. Excess renewable electricity beyond grid capacity, which is increasingly being wasted, can be turned into renewable gas. Moreover, innovative addition of renewably-derived gaseous energy to an integrated gas network with vast storage capacity can put a stop to this wasteful curtailment of excess electricity production.  This unlocks the gates that are currently limiting the deployment of intermittent renewable energy production, while at the same time providing the electricity grid the flexibility to operate effectively within its storage constraints. This is the concept of power to gas, which is gaining increasing attention across the energy world.

This week is Gas Week in Strasbourg. This year, GasNaturally will hold a number of events focusing on innovation from gas, in partnership with renewables, in power generation, heating and transportation, and the role of gas in improving air quality. The gas industry will showcase what it already does and what it’s capable of delivering in the future through the use of gas as a renewable energy vector to shape the European energy system. From their side, EU policy makers can contribute by ensuring the right framework conditions.

A resilient Energy Union will only be successful in the long run if the fifth innovation pillar is successful. Indeed, the other four pillars depend on it. Without innovation in a way that provides the needed support to the other pillars, we cannot succeed. Innovation with gas can help us decarbonise faster and at a lower cost than electricity alone. The gas industry is ready to play its part in the EU energy transition. See you in Strasbourg!

By  Robert Judd, Secretary General of GERG and Kyriakos Gialoglou, Vice-Chairman of GasNaturally



Three moves to turn COP22 into action} Thu, 10 Nov 2016 00:00:00 GMT Last year, it was Paris. The climate change deal – struck by the almost 200 national delegations – has changed the perspective in which policymakers, and industry, look at addressing climate challenge: since then, there is a pre- and a post-Paris Agreement era.

Now, it is Marrakesh. The almost 200 governments meeting in Morocco’s former imperial city will have to get to the nitty gritty of how to deliver on the commitments they made to fulfil the Paris Agreement .

As with Paris, I am now really looking forward to going to Marrakesh and speaking at the event that GasNaturally is organizing to focus on how the combination between gas and renewable energy can help face the climate challenge while still providing enough energy for the growing world population.

Indeed, GasNaturally plans to bring the gas industry’s voice to Marrakesh. We welcomed the Paris Agreement, as it is truly global. Now, we believe that we can help turn words into action. With the three following concrete actions, countries could set themselves on the right path to limit emissions, while providing the energy needed by a growing world population: 

First: they should ditch coal and switch to gas to produce electricity. Too many countries are still building new coal power plants. Gas-fired power plants emit half the CO2, are quicker and cheaper to build, can benefit from a well-connected, flexible gas infrastructure and can be located close to consumers. Unlike coal, gas emits much less of the major components of outdoor air pollution and almost no particulates: substituting coal with gas would have a substantially positive impact on air quality and consequently on human health, especially in urban areas. 

Second: they should embrace policies that facilitate the combination of gas and renewables in their energy mix. Renewables are growing exponentially. To deploy wind and solar at the scale we expect, we will need some balancing: another energy source will have to fill the no-sun, no-wind gaps to ensure that electricity production meets demand at all times, preventing blackouts. Gas is the best source of such needed flexibility. A gas-fired power plant can provide additional electricity in a matter of minutes and gas networks are geared to deliver on that flexibility.

Third: they can prepare for the long term, by politically supporting – today – investments in new technologies to cut emissions even further. Biogas and carbon capture and storage (CCS) are two important examples, as is power-to-gas. We are not starting from scratch: our industry is already significantly investing to develop these solutions, and, with its deep understanding of geology, is best placed when it comes to CCS.

According to the International Energy Agency’s two degree Celsius scenario, we will use much less coal, but more natural gas in 2040 than we have in 2013, to cover 22% of the world’s primary energy demand. This clearly shows that natural gas has a major part to play in the transition to a lower carbon economy and contributes to the solution we all want.

By François-Régis Mouton, Chairman of GasNaturally

Gas Week 2016 to focus on innovation} Thu, 13 Oct 2016 00:00:00 GMT Gas Week has become a signature event on the EU calendar, enabling industry stakeholders and EU policymakers to come together and discuss the future of Europe’s climate and energy policy.  This year’s edition will consist of a number of events in the European Parliament in Strasbourg, France from 21-24 November.

Innovative technologies will play a key role in achieving Energy Union and climate goals. With this in mind, Gas Week 2016 aims to highlight how gas can play an active role in driving innovation and new solutions across sectors. 

Learn more about this year's Gas Week edition here.

Understanding the riddle of who produces the cheapest electricity} Wed, 12 Oct 2016 00:00:00 GMT Over the last months, the approval of the Hinkley nuclear power station has stirred a heated debate, in the United Kingdom just as much as in Brussels.

The discussion put the spotlight on one key question: which technology is able to generate electricity the cheapest?

The answer will have a significant impact on the way we will produce our electricity in the next decades, with consequences ranging from the cost for consumers to the impact on climate. At the same time, the continued low prices of gas and other fuels and the falling costs of technologies such as solar are bringing new elements to the debate.

To answer the question, economists typically calculate a levelised cost for each technology with one-off expenditures such as site construction and equipment being spread over the expected lifetime production of the plant they are analysing. To this, they add variable costs (fuel, personnel and maintenance, for example) to get a total quote – in euros per megawatt/hour. This number is in theory comparable across all the technologies being studied.

However, reality is more complex. Apart from the fairly common discussion about the value of the key assumptions used, two other points are key.

Firstly, being forced to do these calculations is a sign of market failure (in some cases, reinforced by sizeable support schemes for renewables). If the power generation market was fully competitive, undistorted by subsidy and encompassed all the facets of power supply (for example location, intermittency and carbon footprint) then policy makers would need not worry about developing levelised costs. They would not need to pick winners out of the available technologies as the market would do this for them.

But because there are market failures – and this is the second point – we need to be sure we compare apples with apples, when we assess levelized costs. For example, power generated by solar panels right where it is used (let’s say in a house) has very different characteristics to the power generated by a centralised coal fired plant.  Simply basing the calculations on the capital and operating costs of the plant ignores issues of location, intermittency and carbon footprint that have to be taken into account.

These parameters can have a significant impact in calculating levelized costs.

Here’s an example:

-To ensure intermittent power supply can have the same characteristics as a dispatchable plant (one that produces electricity continuously), it needs some form of back up.
-If back up was provided by battery storage, the current cost would be at least €1 million per megawatt.  For a source needing back-up for 60% of the time, this  would lead to an increase in the levelised costs of production by around €25 per megawatt/hour. But for a source needing back-up for 90% of the time, the additional cost would be as high as €98 per megawatt/hour.   

The location of power production can also have a significant impact on costs. In Germany, last year industry paid, for the use of the power network, between €18 and €64 per megawatt/hour depending on the size and pattern of its consumption. These costs could be reduced significantly or removed all together if power production was located close to demand centres. The recently announced increase in cost of the Sued Link, the “Wind Power Line”, to €10 billion only reinforces the locational value.

Finally, even though currently it is low, the cost of carbon needs to be taken into account. (At the moment, the cost of carbon only adds a few euros per megawatt/hour to the cost of power produced from coal-fired generators).

Ultimately, the advent of a fully competitive power generation market in Europe will render the calculation of levelised cost obsolete. But in the meantime, decision makers use them to make policy choices: to make sure they make the best choices, we need to be sure we are comparing apples with apples.

Malcolm Rice-Jones is the Chair of GasNaturally's Power Generation Task Force

Accelerating towards a low-carbon future - a young professional's perspective on Europe’s energy future} Tue, 30 Aug 2016 00:00:00 GMT Europe’s energy future is, and will continue to be, about mitigating risk. Not only risk to the security of energy supply, or risk to competition and investment. But the larger (and potentially highly detrimental) risk of climate change. So what can we do, in fact WHAT SHOULD WE DO, to make sure that the Europe in 2030 does not resemble a Hollywood climate apocalypse film? Simply put, we need to look at clean alternatives and what is the best way to implement them.

In the aftermath of last year’s Paris climate agreement, the conversations about Europe’s energy future intensified. Yet, talk is cheap - signing a declaration to limit global warming “well below” 2°C above pre-industrial levels is not enough. It needs to be met with practical policies and a political attitude that encourages individuals, governments, industries, companies and cities to lower their emissions, while ensuring economic growth.

So where do we start in order to break the status quo and accelerate towards a low-carbon future? Well, a good starting point – one that includes a series of “easy wins” - can be identified in the types of fuels we use to power our homes, economies and cars. And it’s no secret that natural gas is a clean, low-emitting fuel that has diverse applications on its own, as well as a bridging component, a characteristic that other fuels lack. 

Every day, we use electricity to power our lifestyles and we also use some mode of transportation to get from point A to point B. Using an electric stove in Belgium is not the same as using one in Poland since the majority of electricity generated comes from nuclear, not coal – but it’s one illustration of many. The switch to natural gas in the right sectors and Member States will alleviate the amount of carbon and air pollution emitted.

As a sector that is responsible for one-third of Europe’s greenhouse gas emissions, decarbonising transport and increasing air quality is vital. This sector in particular would benefit from the use of LNG for maritime and heavy road transportation modes. The number of gas and electric vehicles is expected to increase as well.  But let’s not forget that an electric vehicle can be powered by electricity generated by coal!

The deadline to achieve Europe’s decarbonisation targets may appear far in the future (2030/2050), but the investment towards this transition needs to take place today.  Within the 2050 Energy Roadmap, it’s clear that coal is responsible for around 80% of CO2 emissions of the power sector and this needs to change. But if tackled, Europe can reap the benefits! As variable renewables (we see that in Brussels the sun does not always shine and the wind does not always blow) and smart grid technology expand, gas serves as a fuel anchor due to its flexibility and immediate availability.

Witnessing EU policymaking, there are some positive sparks, while other ideas need to be thought through. We need to be mindful that Europe is not isolated, and to make progress towards a low-carbon Europe also requires global momentum. Will this come from the US? Or even China maybe? Regardless of the uncertainty at international level, Europe can be at the forefront of policy creation to bring about tangible change. We need to do better, and we can do better for my generation and younger generations to come. 

By Paula IwaniukDirector of Communications & Marketing, Young Professionals in Foreign Policy (YPFP) - Brussels

Combining gas and renewables can deliver ‘energy miracle’} Thu, 17 Mar 2016 00:00:00 GMT A lot is happening in the world of natural gas. Just recently, the European Commission published its gas strategy and the United States exported its first Liquefied Natural Gas. It is a clear sign of the role that gas plays and will have to play in Europe’s energy mix.

All of this is good news: And it is happening just a few months after the success of the COP21 Paris Climate conference. The political momentum created in Paris will trigger serious action, which will potentially revolutionise the way we think about energy. The present mix of clean technologies and costs however, is still not able to match that political will – nor, for that matter, to meet the energy thirst of a growing world population by itself.

In short, as Bill Gates recently said, “we need an energy miracle”.

We are not there yet. But we can start laying the ground for future progress. Natural gas has already delivered improvements in emissions and air quality. Admittedly, the US would have been in a much more difficult position in Paris, were it not for the emission reductions achieved thanks to more gas (and less coal) in producing electricity.

According to the International Energy Agency’s two degrees scenario, we will have to use more natural gas in 2040 than we did in 2013, to cover 22% of the world’s primary energy demand. The solution to the climate problem is not getting rid of gas, but using it intelligently – for example in partnership with renewables.

If the EU wants to play the leading role in global CO2 reductions it has always been seeking, it must make the right choices today.  Too many continue to support coal, relying on renewables to offset its huge CO2 harm – wasting most, if not all, the great benefits of hydro, wind and solar. The recent EU communication on ‘The Road from Paris’ would have been a good opportunity to show the way on this point.

The EU needs to make the most of the post-COP21 momentum and ensure it doesn’t lag behind by supporting outdated energies.

First of all, it should be clear about phasing out coal: gas emits half the CO2 and much less harmful particles in power production. More importantly, it brings the flexibility needed to integrate renewables – which are by definition variable – in the power market. To encourage that partnership, the EU should design a power system that facilitates the combination of gas and renewables.

Second: the EU needs to get its approach to gas right. Private investments will be needed, for example, to keep improving the gas network. To commit big money, companies will need clear signals that their products will continue to have a market. Again, a clear move from coal to gas would send that signal, while also encouraging new uses for gas, such as in shipping and heavy duty vehicles.

Finally, we should continue to pursue a long-term vision by investing now in new technologies that will make that “energy miracle” happen. Our industry is committed to playing its part by developing innovations like biogas, power to gas and, for the longer term, carbon capture and storage (CCS).

Innovation will foster even more the partnership between gas and renewables that are already building the right steps toward that energy miracle, as numbers are starting to show. According to the IEA, global greenhouse gas emissions were flat in 2015, the second year in a row, even though the global economy grew.

This is the year of delivery for the Energy Union. Let’s make sure we keep going in the right direction.

By François-Régis Mouton, originally published in Euractiv.