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EU unveils gas market reform, doubling down on hydrogen

The EU presented a new package of legislation for the gas market on 15 December, EUobserver has reported

EU unveils gas market reform, doubling down on hydrogen

Brussels, December 16 - Neftegaz.RU. According to vice-president Frans Timmermans, Europe «needs to turn the page» on fossil fuels, replacing them with renewable and low carbon gases, like hydrogen.
Gases that bring about greenhouse-gas emission savings of at least 70 % will be certified as «low carbon».

No hard deadlines for a natural gas phase-out are included in the plan, but in a previous assessment, the Commission estimated gas consumption should reduce by 32 to 37 percent before 2030.

To reach this goal, it has now banned long-term gas contracts beyond 2049.
The Commission also aims to reduce natural gas usage by promoting hydrogen.
EU energy commissioner Kadri Simson said at a press conference:
  • One of the main goals is to establish a hydrogen market
  • We want Europe to lead the way for this important source of energy
Cross-border tariffs are removed, making hydrogen trade more attractive.
In addition, it will allow gas companies to blend up to 5% hydrogen into the gas supply.
A new governing body, the European Network of Hydrogen Operators (ENNOH), will be set up to promote hydrogen as a substitute for natural gas.

«Electricity alone cannot deliver all our future energy needs,» Timmermans said, arguing low carbon gases are needed for industries like clean steel production or heavy-duty transport.

It can also serve as a storage facility to stock up excess wind and solar power production.
And - because it repurposes gas infrastructure - it is a cheap way to green the energy system, Timmermans has argued in the past.

But environmental groups have warned that the repurposing of gas infrastructure threatens to lock in fossil-fuel dependency and «reconfirm the central role of gas grid companies in deciding future gas investments.»
Tara Connolly, senior gas campaigner at Global Witness, said:
  • It has never been clearer that Europeans need to get off fossil gas
  • Instead, the commission has left consumers at the mercy of greedy gas companies, determined to keep investing in expensive gas grids we no longer need
The gas market legislation still needs to be discussed and agreed upon by member states and the European Parliament.
Green MEP Bas Eickhout said:
  • After coal, gas is the next fossil fuel to get rid of
  • But we should not make the mistake of replacing it one-on-one with hydrogen
  • Hydrogen is scarce and inefficient as an energy carrier
  • The commission needs to clearly say what we can use hydrogen for and what infrastructure is needed for that

Author: Wester van Gaal

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