Europe has proven resilient in a turbulent period of multiple crises, which have each pushed the region to reimagine itself. Spurred by the invasion of Ukraine and the climate emergency, EU policy must evolve without neglecting climate ambitions. Meeting energy needs in this context will involve a mixture of new and existing technologies. Once again, we must adjust our self-perception – this time by taking stock of existing infrastructure, expanding available options, and learning to measure the efficiency of systems by their entire life cycles.
The challenges ahead require more nuanced policy and the coordination of a myriad of complementary technologies. With the inclusive measurement of whole systems, we can leverage the benefits of renewable gases over their fossil counterparts, instead of equalizing them all at the tailpipe. The effects of such a change in perspective would be visible in immediate reductions in CO2 emissions and would represent a great improvement when compared to the relative lack of progress made on CO2 emissions in transport in the last 20 years.
Similarly, it is important to leave the door open for each region and sector to pursue decarbonization according to their needs and available resources. Biomethane, for example, is a feasible solution used with existing infrastructure today, and one which still shows incredible potential for the transport sector’s decarbonization. A push to scale up bio-LNG and bio-CNG would help to bridge the gap between fossil fuels and the multiple solutions being discussed for the future.
Maintaining such a diversity of energy options is imperative when considering that different sectors require different technologies. Heavy-duty trucks, like deep-water ships, cannot be fully electrified. This means certain alternative energies will not be available to those sectors in the same way as they are for others. Clearly, there is no silver bullet for solving the energy transition, which means that EU policy must take into account different sectors’ needs. For heavy-duty vehicles, biomethane is a promising and scalable source that could save up to 42 million tons of CO2 by 2050, allowing another route towards the decarbonization of transport that would not be available otherwise. To achieve this, a carbon correction factor would be a useful legislative tool for incentivizing not just the expansion of biomethane and its infrastructure, but also other decarbonization options.
This diversity of solutions should be fully realized in order for Europe to manage and decarbonize its complex energy needs more quickly and efficiently. In Germany alone, another half dozen liquid biomethane plants, as well as over 100 filling stations, are on their way in the coming year, causing an expected reduction in carbon footprint from 100,000 to 700,000 tons of CO2. This is great progress, but a similar, Europe-wide push to decarbonize by utilizing and expanding existing technologies is crucial if we are to cut emissions across the board.
As well as being the President of NGVA, I sit on the board of Eurogas. In this most critical time of EU legislation, I am pleased to see the two associations working more and more closely together. Through constructive input into energy policy debates, the members of the two associations will take the work forward, advocating for workable and pragmatic solutions, like a carbon correction factor. By concentrating on actionable policy to decarbonize the gas network and its end users, we are strong together and determined to Drive Europe Forward.