Gas, a key enabler of a decarbonized and smart energy system
GRDF is the leader of gas distribution in Europe. It builds, maintains and operates a gas grid of 200 000 km distributing gas to 11 million of clients from 9600 French municipalities.
- How is gas part of the solution to a low carbon EU ?
Natural gas and green gas can achieve a quick, cost-effective decarbonisation of the energy system. It can remarkedly boost clean mobility : bio-GNV can reduce CO2 by 80% and nitrogen oxide emissions by 50%, compared to traditional fuels. Gas-fueled engines also have significant autonomy especially for trucks (500 to 600 km). It is thus the most effective solution to decarbonise heavy-duty vehicles.
In the heating sector, gas is a predictable and storable energy source, so gas grids are capable to handle daily and seasonal peaks of consumption, especially in winter period. It is of course a green alternative to remaining oil-fueled boilers. Additionnally, it benefits from efficient, affordable equipement. Combined heat-and-power (CHP) units and condensing boilers have around 100% yield in terms of final energy consumption compared to 70% for traditional boilers.
- Is green gas a solid solution in the long run ?
In France, there is a sufficient potential to sustain the greening of the gas mix in the long term. By 2030, there will be enough feedstocks to have 30% of renewable gas injected in the grids, mainly from biomethane plants. We already expect an additional 8 TWh/year production capacity in the next 5 years. By 2050, all gas consumption, i.e. 460 TWh, could be met by green gas thanks to the potential of power-to-gas and pyro-gasification.
Importantly, it is a cost-effective solution. Distribution infrastructures, where biomethane plants are plugged-in, are already existing, resilient and wrote off, so investments to connect plants are limited. Moreover, overall costs will decrease by more than a third by 2030 so the cost of biomethane should go down from €90/MWh in 2018 to €60/MWh in 2030. It would then be competitive with natural gas without being subsidised.
- How can gas DSO enable the transition to a decarbonised, decentralized, digitized energy system ?
GRDF acts as a facilitator of biomethane and NGV/bio-GNV production, for instance in the connection of 54 decentralized plants and 63 CNG stations to the network. What’s more, we are stakeholders in demonstrators preparing Power-to-gas and pyro-gasification.
We are equally an active player of the digitized and decentralized gas system. GRDF is rolling out smart metering for 11 millions of clients. This will enable them to follow their daily energy consumption online and manage it. Sharing this data will lead to energy optimization services and energy efficiency.
The development of intermittent renewable electricity will increase the need for flexibility and more decentralized management of the energy system. The storability of gas and the developpement of cogeneration highlights the role of gas as a key provider of both heating and electricity balancing services. As a consequence, gas DSOs will also have to cooperate more with electricity distributors to manage energy grids on a local level.
Interested in hearing more from Edouard Sauvage ? He will be speaking about: "Natural and Renewable Gas: Key Enablers of Decarbonisation and Digitisation of EU Energy System" during the session A Low Carbon Energy System (6th November) at 16:15 hrs. This session will take place in the Summit, in Strauss 1 room.
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