Gas for cleaner electricity
Gas provides the backbone for a modern, flexible and clean power system, even more so when combined with renewables.
Gas is an ideal partner for renewable energy sources. It provides the flexibility needed to compensate for the variability of electricity produced through solar or wind. Gas-fired power plants are much more flexible than nuclear or coal-fired power plants. This flexibility guarantees the security of power supply. The EU has an ambition to generate 50% of all power from renewable sources by 2030. Gas-fired power plants are the only large-scale dispatchable source of cleaner energy, which will continue to be key for systems with large shares of renewables because storage, demand-response and interconnection alone cannot provide enough flexibility for such systems.
Gas–fired power plants are the cheapest to build among thermal power technologies thanks to lower land requirements and faster construction timelines. On the basis of capital costs alone, natural gas is a winner. Once permit is granted, a natural gas-fired power plant can typically be built and come online twice faster than solid-fuel power generation sources.
Benefits of coal to gas switch
The shift from coal to natural gas contributes to the reduction of energy production carbon footprint given its high hydrogen/carbon ratio, efficient combustion, and lower carbon dioxide emissions. This switch is smoothly happening in many sectors, also in rural areas, from electricity generation to heating systems for buildings.
Carbon Capture and Storage (CCS) can be efficiently applied to gas-fired power generation to provide reliable, high quality power source with virtually zero CO2, NOx and SOx emissions. The efficiency loss of a Combined Cycle Gas Turbine (CCGT) plant equipped for CO2 capture is half that of a coal-fired plant, because it needs a relatively smaller percentage of additional primary energy for the capture of CO2 and because a coal power plant has lower efficiency.
Smart Sector Integration
Smart sector integration is the holistic view and connection of the different sectors of the energy system: electricity, heat and transport, including the corresponding infrastructure in power, gas and district heating. The aim is to make optimal use of the potential of each energy carrier across all sectors to achieve an energy system that is sustainable and fulfils EU climate and energy goals, while providing a high level of security of supply at affordable costs. Using the virtues of both electricity and gas is the best and fastest way to create a sustainable low-carbon economy. The smart combination of the electricity, gas and heat systems can deliver early achievements, allow more renewables, lower costs and increase system resilience. Gas is already providing sector integration, contributing to:
- Decarbonising industry: about one third of EU industry’s energy consumption relies on gas due to its efficiency and affordability. Renewable and decarbonised gases have particularly strong advantages in enabling industry to decarbonise their energy-intensive power, heat and chemical processes, also off the grid.
- Decarbonising heating: through the roll-out of efficient condensing boilers and a progressive penetration of hybrid solutions, gas appliances bring substantial energy savings while providing a concrete alternative for the renovation of EU’s building stock in cities and rural areas.
- Decarbonising transport: Gas mobility, especially biomethane-fueled vehicles, along with bioLPG, represent a quick and readily available way to complement efforts aimed at decarbonising the transport and logistics sectors.