Picture courtesy of the European Commission
2 Gas Infrastructure and European Energy Policy
Existing European gas infrastructures already provide a high level of market integration, security of supply, and competition in many parts of Europe. Recent changes in the geopolitical context prove that further developments in some specific areas are necessary in order to ensure that such benefits will be strengthened and maintained including independence from Russia, improving diversification, and taking into account the acceleration of hydrogen deployment communicated in REPowerEU1.
Market-based development of gas infrastructures
The Third Energy Package ensured a sound climate for a market-based development of gas infrastructures. In this context the TEN-E Regulation2 aims at facilitating the delivery of key infrastructures. Published in June 2022, the revised TEN-E Regulation lays down new EU rules for cross-border energy infrastructure. It promotes integration of renewables and new clean energy technologies into the energy system in the light of the European Green Deal3, the connection of regions currently isolated from European energy markets, strengthening of existing cross-border interconnections, and cooperation with partner countries.
New infrastructure projects may contribute to sustainability, decarbonisation, market integration, competition and diversification of gas supply sources or routes. It is therefore important that the European regulatory framework continues ensuring adequate support to infrastructure developments that will allow to meet current and future needs.
The revised TEN-E Regulation
With regards to the gas PCI process, the revised TEN-E Regulation clearly states that new natural gas projects will not be eligible for the PCI status already for the 6th PCI list (1st PCI/PMI under the revised TEN-E). At the same time, it defines the rules for the assessments starting in 2024.
This TYNDP 2022 spans the revised and previous version of the TEN-E Regulation, and ENTSOG proactively is taking initiative for already designing infrastructure assessments for the cross-border infrastructure by grasping both, existing natural gas and future hydrogen networks. This is to properly and carefully represent interactions and synergies between different energy infrastructure categories.
THE REPowerEU PLAN
REPowerEU is addressing the European Commission’s response to the hardships and global energy market disruptions caused by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. It is a plan for saving energy, producing clean energy and diversifying energy supplies aiming at the reduction of Europe’s dependency on the Russian supplies of natural gas. The REPowerEU plan sets out a series of measures to rapidly reduce dependence on Russian fossil fuels and fast forward the green transition, while increasing the resilience of the EU-wide energy system.
In its defined measures, increased production of biomethane, targeted investments for natural gas infrastructure and LNG and hydrogen purchases from alternative supply sources are listed. The TYNDP 2022 development was adjusted and modified along the process to include these ambitions into the perspective of the infrastructure development and its assessment.
Gas infrastructure – a flexible system
Regarding the sustainability pillar of the EU Energy Policy, gas infrastructures already offer a flexible system able to support the development of renewable energies. These infrastructures are able to transport a fuel that is less carbon-intensive than coal and oil to support the development of intermittent renewable power production and enable a large-scale injection of non-fossil gas (such as biomethane, hydrogen, or synthetic methane). Gas infrastructures provide the advantage of storing renewable energy, providing opportunities for up to seasonal balancing of energy systems, as well as transporting energy at relatively low costs.
New investments into and accelerated deployment of hydrogen will establish advanced integration of renewable sources and achieve a higher level of decarbonisation. All technologies that contribute to the decarbonisation of the energy system, including those which enable renewable and decarbonised gases, should benefit from an objective treatment, assuring a level playing field between energy carriers.
Coordinated and coherent interaction
To achieve climate goals under the European Green Deal in a cost-efficient way, a coordinated and coherent interaction between electricity and gases (including natural gas, biomethane, synthetic methane, and hydrogen) is essential.
Such an integrated approach should address how to develop the infrastructure necessary for the future in an efficient and technology-neutral manner, which also reflects the increasing demand for hydrogen and the essential role of power-to-gas technologies.