Renewables and Gas: A partnership for a sustainable future

Hannah Burk's picture
Hannah Burk, Director of Proprietary Natural Gas Products, Genscape
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As an ideal transition fuel, natural gas is well positioned to help meet environmental goals worldwide. Boasting lower carbon emissions than both coal and diesel, natural gas can meet demand for power generation and transportation while enabling consumers to meet carbon reduction targets. Natural gas infrastructure is already in place to serve demand throughout Europe and could store and transport volumes from even “greener” power-to-gas and biomethane projects, with little to no alterations. Natural gas is easy to store, and combined-cycle power generators can vary output quickly to meet peak demand or fill gaps in availability of renewable power.

It is clear to natural gas experts that gas is the perfect partner for green initiatives and renewable generation, yet the public, policy-makers, and renewable stakeholders still often view gas as counteractive to a climate-friendly agenda.

At the European Autumn Gas Conference (EAGC) in Milan last week, speakers and delegates discussed this image disconnect and the problems it is causing environmental efforts and renewable power producers. One of the major hurdles faced by renewables today is the problem of energy storage and intermittency.

Battery technology has yet to become a realistic option for balancing renewable output and the policy backlash could be crippling if renewables were ever responsible for a blackout. Explicit partnerships between renewable power and natural gas operators would improve both reliability and spatiotemporal flexibility of energy supply. Utilizing existing infrastructure, power-to-gas projects could store or transport excess power during peak production from wind and solar.

The carbon market does not currently account for the full value chain of a given product and is therefore unbalanced and inefficient. While natural gas suffers from a skewed carbon valuation in the current market, a properly functioning carbon market could make battery storage an unviable option for green power projects. For efficient progress toward environmental targets, natural gas must secure a positive image with green initiatives stakeholders and policy-makers by effectively communicating the environmental benefits of gas and natural advantages of coupling gas-fired generation with renewable power.

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The European Autumn Gas Conference continues to connect European gas markets with new global opportunities in natural gas and LNG. Discover more about the upcoming 33rd edition next year in Berlin. 

Photo: Delegates at the 2017 EAGC