Can Europe’s gas industry reinvent itself for the decarbonising energy landscape?

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Europe’s gas industry has long argued that gas has a significant role to play as an energy source that can positively benefit the transition towards a decarbonised economy. But policymakers and environmental groups in Europe remain sceptical, and over the course of the next decade, the gas industry faces its greatest existential crisis as major policy decisions will be taken that could permanently impact on the industry’s future.

A new level of urgency now underpins discussions around the medium and longer-term outlook for the European gas industry as recognition grows that a new level of ambition will be required to decarbonise and transform the energy and power sectors. As a result, gas will need to adopt a major new stance in order to survive and thrive:  it must decarbonise and yet remain cost-competitive with other fuel choices.

The decarbonisation of the industrial and heavy energy user sectors, especially for heating and for transportation, coupled with the rapid development of new technologies such as carbon capture use and storage (CCUS) and other low-emissions fuels such as hydrogen, synthetic gas from power, or biogas from agricultural and food waste, will become new battlegrounds for Europe’s policymakers and pressure groups.

Part of the policy conundrum facing Europeans is the stark difference between intention and pragmatic capability when it comes to delivering on carbon reduction commitments towards 2050.

Many have pushed for the full electrification of the EU’s economies through renewable energy with no natural gas contribution, something that the Commission’s own Deputy Director-General of Energy, Klaus-Dieter Borchardt, has recently noted as being “profoundly wrong” and that it would be a mistake to leave the EU’s decades-established gas infrastructure empty, especially when investment was still being made into this network.

This nexus between renewable energies and low-carbon (or even carbon-neutral) gas fuels could become the most plausible and accepted solution for EU member states as they seek to balance the demands of climate policy with the needs to sustain energy supply and maintain economic buoyancy.

Many leaders within the gas industry are now bullish that the roles gas – whether natural, biogas or synthetic – can play in delivering long-term solutions to climate commitments are permanent and no longer regarded as ‘bridging’ in a transition towards 100% renewable energy.

Yet for many working within the gas industry there is dismay at how uncomfortable European governments appear to be in publicly supporting new gas or LNG projects, yet behind the scenes projects continue to be developed and progressed – such as new LNG import terminals into Germany – a country committed to climate reductions through the mothballing of both coal and nuclear power generation. Where does this conundrum leave policymakers in countries, for example, like Germany who has pledged commitments to carbon neutrality by 2050, and yet continue to invest in long-term projects such as Nord Stream 2? If gas and LNG projects are being supported as long-term investments, then does this not mean that EU governments are sending mixed messages about their own climate and energy policies?

This year’s European Annual Gas Conference faces up to the stark new realities facing the continent’s gas industry and tackles the challenges confidently, openly and honestly. The 34th edition of the highly-regarded annual gathering of Europe’s top energy executives, policy makers and end-users will take place in Paris, on 5-7 November at the landmark luxury hotel, the Le Grand Intercontinental.

The roles of key stakeholders across the full value chain will be included and the needs of producers & suppliers, traders & investors, end-users & utilities, plus policy makers & regulators, will all form part of our group of enthusiastic professionals willing to undertake a holistic and thorough examination of the state of our industry in Europe today.

Gavin Sutcliffe, Director of Content at the event’s organising company, DMG Events, remarks;

“This year, the European Annual Gas Conference has benefited enormously from significant new investment and support from DMG Events as they seek to position the conference back as Europe’s number one industry-leading event. Recognising the continued importance of gas in the provision of energy to Europe, we are uniquely positioning the needs of the end-users and customers at the heart of the discussion.

In Paris, we will bring together a unique gathering of industry and government professionals that will hold honest, stark and meaningful discussions about the very valid opportunities that a low-carbon economy presents to the gas and LNG sectors, with a view to working collectively together to help map out positive future scenarios.”

The European Annual Gas Conference is back for 2019 and better than ever. Alongside a prestigious, high-level conference programme, a brand new structured meetings programme has been added for participants to utilise. Find out how you can be involved now!