2 The gas infrastructure:
an efficient and reliable asset to decarbonise the future energy system and to reduce Russian gas supply dependence
Natural gas infrastructure was developed continuously based on the TEN-E requirements “to enhance security of supply, market integration, competition, and sustainability”. Especially through new interconnections between European countries and the linking with different sources through import pipelines and LNG terminals, a certain flexibility was achieved that led to converging market prices across Europe, redundancies against technical unavailabilities of individual import routes, and a certain coal-to-gas switch.
In parallel, rising volumes of biomethane were injected. The Russian invasion of Ukraine in 2022 impacted previous planning assumptions, whereas the achieved gas system flexibilities, demand reductions, and swift construction of new LNG infrastructure could be an interim measure to prevent the triggering of the European crisis level.
Since the TYNDP 2020, progress has been made in terms of gas infrastructure projects. 32 investments that were already part of the TYNDP 2020 were completed between both TYNDP editions.
The commissioning of all these investments further contributes to the development of the European gas system, enhancing the level of market integration, security of supply, competition and sustainability.
Some other projects have been submitted to TYNDP 2022 and were commissioned in the following months directly after the end of the project submission phase (commissioning date before 31 December 2022).
2.1 Independence from Russia
In TYNDP 2020, one of the conclusions was that in all scenarios, Europe depends on Russian gas to satisfy its demand in 2020, 2025 and 2030 and to a lesser extent in 2040. At EU-level, the assessment showed that gas infrastructure allows to make use of the maximum supply potential of all the other gas sources. However, this was not enough to cover the overall EU gas demand. This indicated that Europe relied on Russian gas supply to achieve its balance between supply and demand.
Because of the significant natural gas demand reduction in both scenarios, Distributed Energy and Global Ambition scenarios show no need for Russian gas in 2030 and 2040, when assuming the minimisation of Russian gas. However, in policy scenarios that are in line with national energy and climate policies (National Trends and Best Estimate1), a supply disruption of Russian gas in many cases leads to methane demand curtailment for average winters.
Additional infrastructure in the PCI infrastructure level improves the situation for the National Trends scenario, while the Advanced infrastructure level allows to minimise associated curtailments through additional LNG import capacities and improved interconnections. Remaining possible methane curtailment for the Advanced infrastructure level is then within a range of the demand response that was observed in reaction to high gas prices in 2022, i. e., below 20 %. It should thereby be noted that the demand in the National Trends scenario is based on information collected before the war, when Russia was still considered as a reliable supplier. The scenario therefore also does not reflect demand measures taken by the Member States in 2022. In the National Trends scenario, demand for natural gas is increasing until 2030, and afterwards decreasing. This explains the observed higher curtailments in 2030 compared to 2040.
1 Best Estimate is the bottom-up scenarios used for 2025. More details can be found in TYNDP Scenarios 2022 report
2.2 Dual gas system – hydrogen, Natural Gas
With the work undertaken in the last two years, ENTSOG confirms that its model is fit for hybrid network assessment where both methane and hydrogen coexist, and that the relevant projects can be assessed.
ENTSOG has developed a dual gas system modelling approach considering hydrogen and methane networks simultaneously. The topology refers to both, the existing methane infrastructure and the planned methane and hydrogen infrastructure. Both topologies are interconnected, allowing to capture interactions between both gases and assess the role of the transmission system of both fuels in satisfying demand under different scenarios, infrastructure storylines and specific events. The full range of the simulation results are presented in the System Assessment Report.
Infrastructure levels are the basis for the identification of infrastructure gaps in the TYNDP 2022 System Assessment. For the first time, the TYNDP 2022 will include a dual assessment of natural gas and hydrogen infrastructure: by combining each natural gas infrastructure level with both hydrogen infrastructure levels in the TYNDP System Assessment. As an existing infrastructure level is not yet available for the hydrogen system, ENTSOG has identified a possible hydrogen network according to the information provided by promoters in their project submission for TYNDP/PCI process (i. e., H₂ infrastructure levels 1 and 2) as explained above.
For this reason, the results of the TYNDP simulations, presented in System Assessment report, show what could be reached (in 2030, 2040, 2050) under the hypothesis of a full commissioning of the planned hydrogen infrastructures that are not yet in place. Therefore, even in configurations where no demand curtailment is identified, these results should not be read as absence of hydrogen infrastructure needs. On the contrary, the full availability of the infrastructures composing the H₂ infrastructure levels is assumed in order to avoid demand curtailment. Indeed, if planned infrastructures were not developed, demand curtailment would materialise for given scenarios at rates progressively increasing with the number of planned projects not actually realised.
It should be noted that the simulation results are determined by the behaviour of the model, and assumptions on infrastructure developments. The model does not factorise commercial supply agreements. Furthermore, the results are driven by the demand and supply figures that, in some specific cases, refer to scenarios that have been defined a few years ago (i. e., National Trends).
High hydrogen ambitions – room for smart investments
Two hydrogen infrastructure storylines allow to assess ambitions and targets considering the role of hydrogen in the future. The H2 Infrastructure level 1 is based only on the submitted projects and in many simulation cases these projects alone would not allow to satisfy demand, e. g., in countries that are not connected to neighbouring countries in 2030 and cannot balance themselves. Within an average year without a stress case, eventual hydrogen demand curtailments show seasonal behaviours. While the electrolytic hydrogen production is lower in winter due to reduced amounts of available zero emission electricity, hydrogen demand is elevated during colder months, e. g., for power generation. In 2040 and 2050, in the Distributed Energy scenario, additional hydrogen storages could mitigate the curtailments since during summer the hydrogen import options cannot be utilised up to their technical capacity. Instead, in most countries, demand curtailments are observed in winter 2040 and in autumn and winter 2040.
In 2040 and 2050, in the Global Ambition scenario, all import options are used up to their technical capacity, however the electrolytic hydrogen production is not sufficient in winter. In 2050, demand curtailment with a seasonal profile is even unfolding in every month and country.
It could be questioned whether the part of the hydrogen demand that is not satisfied on a yearly (or even seasonal) basis would materialise or instead remained with another energy carrier. Establishment of hydrogen projects is therefore beneficial to prevent the usage of more carbon intensive alternatives, which would risk the climate goals included in the scenarios. At the same time, if demand is not satisfied on a yearly basis, any additional stress case (climatic stress, infrastructure disruption or supply disruptions) may result in higher demand curtailment. This situation could be mitigated by additional hydrogen projects.
When assessing the impact of climatic stress on gas infrastructure (i. e., methane or hydrogen), the demand is considered static and not responding to the possibility of the supply deficit or price signals. This assumption is necessary to perform a consistent assessment across the different years and the different scenarios of the TYNDP.
To be consistent and transparent, the level of exposure to curtailment is always presented in percentages of the demand assuming no demand reaction to the different stressful events. It can also be interpreted as the required demand reduction to prevent demand curtailment.
H₂ Infrastructure level 2 (policy-based) includes all projects and the additional infrastructure assumptions needed to enable policy objectives. Exclusively for the H2 Infrastructure level 2, additional hydrogen production from natural gas was introduced that goes beyond the values defined in the scenarios to mitigate hydrogen demand curtailments by using surplus methane supply potentials of each country (whereas this would also have been required for the H2 Infrastructure level 1 to avoid demand curtailments, but was not introduced to show contrasted results). This can be interpreted as a flexible hydrogen supply potential on top of the scenario values, mitigated in terms of sustainability if combined with CC(U)S. Hydrogen production from methane allows for the indirect usage of methane storages to satisfy the seasonal hydrogen demand, mitigating the crucial role of dedicated hydrogen storages.