Working Paper Article Version 4 This version is not peer-reviewed

How and to Which Extent Can the Gas Sector Contribute to a Climate-Neutral European Energy System? A Qualitative Approach

Version 1 : Received: 22 October 2018 / Approved: 23 October 2018 / Online: 23 October 2018 (09:57:39 CEST)
Version 3 : Received: 10 March 2019 / Approved: 11 March 2019 / Online: 11 March 2019 (10:57:33 CET)
Version 4 : Received: 19 March 2019 / Approved: 19 March 2019 / Online: 19 March 2019 (10:30:53 CET)

A peer-reviewed article of this Preprint also exists.

Journal reference: Energy, Sustainability and Society 2019, 9
DOI: 10.1186/s13705-019-0207-2

Abstract

Background: Mitigating climate change requires fundamentally redesigned energy systems in which renewable energy sources ultimately replace fossil fuels such as natural gas. In this context, the question how and to which extent the gas sector can contribute to an increasingly climate-neutral future EU energy system is heavily debated among scholars, energy industry experts and policy makers. Methods: We take a two-step approach: We begin with a review of studies from energy industry and academia to discuss potential gas sector contributions from a holistic energy system design point of view; this is followed by a comprehensive discussion of technical potentials, micro-economic conditions and societal implications of renewable gas. We then enrich our findings with the results of an empirical focus group process. Results: The gas sector can not only contribute to balancing volatile renewable energy production but also enable the supply of renewable energy to end-users in gaseous form; based on existing infrastructure. This could reduce costs for society, increase public acceptance and ultimately speed up the energy system transformation. There is the theoretical technical potential to substitute major parts of natural gas with renewable gas of biogenic and synthetic nature. This, however, crucially requires a supportive policy framework like the one established for renewable electricity. Conclusion: Given the societal benefits and the competitiveness of renewable gas as compared to renewable alternatives, energy policy makers should incorporate renewable gas and the existing gas infrastructure in the future energy system framework. The objective should be an optimized interplay of various energy vectors and their infrastructure along the entire energy supply chain. This requires a level playing field for different renewable technologies across different policy areas and a form of public support that strikes the balance between facilitating the gradual substitution of natural gas by renewable gas while maintaining public acceptance for this transformation despite higher costs for end-users.: Given the societal benefits and the competitiveness of renewable gas as compared to renewable alternatives, energy policy makers should incorporate renewable gas and the existing gas infrastructure in the future energy system framework. The objective should be an optimized interplay of various energy vectors and their infrastructure along the entire energy supply chain. This requires a level playing field for different renewable technologies across different policy areas and a form of public support that strikes the balance between facilitating the gradual substitution of natural gas by renewable gas while maintaining public acceptance for this transformation despite higher costs for end-users.

Subject Areas

energy system; energy policy; climate neutrality; renewable gas; biomethane; power-to-gas; technical potential; support level

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