The Paris climate agreement: how can we contribute?
The government reached agreement on the new Dutch Climate Act in early July 2018. Underpinning the act is the target of a 49% reduction in CO₂ emissions by 2030 compared to 1990, and a 95% reduction by 2050. Energy infrastructure is seen as one of the keys to achieving these goals. It plays a linking and facilitating role in the energy transition, and is therefore an important theme in negotiations for the Paris climate agreement.
These negotiations have already led to a number of visionary principles, including a major role for the development of renewable gases. Gasunie participates in the discussions, focusing on both infrastructure and the role for sustainable and other gases in the energy system.
From natural gas infrastructure to sustainable energy infrastructure
At present, our network primarily transports natural gas. The expectation is that gaseous energy will still form more than 40% of our energy mix in 2050. Our company is therefore evolving from a natural gas infrastructure business to a sustainable energy infrastructure business. While continuing to take advantage of the demand for natural gas infrastructure, our focus is shifting more specifically towards hydrogen, green gas, heat and underground storage of CO2 (CCS).
Hydrogen is expected to play a major role in the future energy system, as both a sustainable energy resource and as a raw material. With limited modifications and at a limited cost, Gasunie can make its existing infrastructure suitable for the transport and storage of hydrogen. Our ambition is to implement a basic hydrogen structure throughout the Netherlands by 2030 with nationwide coverage, largely based on existing pipelines. At the same time, we are working with partners to investigate the upscaling of electrolyzers to enable the production of green hydrogen from electricity. Gasunie is also a participant in the Hydrogen Coalition, which shares the ambition of establishing 3 to 4 gigawatts of green hydrogen capacity by 2030.
Like hydrogen, green gas offers many opportunities. We expect our energy mix to comprise at least 1 billion m3 of green gas in 2023, and 3 billion m3 in 2030. In 2018, Gasunie and the regional network operators jointly developed a green gas assessment framework. This enables us to determine the financially most attractive option for the feed-in of green gas. Our shared expectation is that an investment of some € 300 million will be needed to adapt the existing gas networks for the intended integration of 3 billion m3 of green gas in 2030. We are specifically examining the possibilities in the area of manifolds and feed-ins into the national grid through “green gas boosters”. Construction started on the first booster in mid-2018 (jointly with Enexis). We continue to seek new opportunities to help simplify and accelerate the feed-in of green gas by new suppliers.
Heat and CCS
Alongside the facilitation of sustainable gases, Gasunie is investigating a possible role in the development of infrastructure for heat and CCS. In the case of heat, our focus is on the realisation of a heat roundabout in the province of Zuid-Holland. CCS is a temporary solution for industries without a more sustainable alternative. This option can prevent large amounts of CO2 emissions in the short term.
Energy infrastructure needs to innovate
The further interconnection of energy systems is of major importance for a successful energy transition. The ultimate goal is an energy system in which a variety of energy forms and technologies reinforce one another. Given our extensive knowledge and experience with large-scale transport, gas storage and the balancing of supply and demand, we can make a major contribution to further system integration. In cooperation with partners, we are preparing proposals for the timely availability of new infrastructure and adaptation of our existing infrastructure (where necessary).
In 2018, Gasunie carried out a system analysis in collaboration with TenneT and Enexis. Our joint conclusion was that there is a need for investment in technological development and demonstration projects related to hydrogen and other forms of sustainable energy. An important issue is reducing the costs of hydrogen production, storage and transport, to enable the hydrogen share to grow significantly in the longer term.