TSOs “out of sync” with EU climate goals – Eurelectric

Jan 27, 2020 | Montel

(Montel) Forecasts by European TSOs over future gas demand and the role of hydrogen are “out of sync” with the European Commission’s target of carbon neutrality for the region, said Eurelectric’s secretary general Kristian Ruby.

“We should not tell ourselves that we will consume gas in the same way as we do today in 20 years,” Ruby, of the European power industry association, told Montel in an interview.

The EC wants the 27-nation bloc to reach net zero emissions by 2050, though Eurelectric forecast carbon neutrality for the electricity sector could potentially be achieved five years earlier with increased renewables expansion, more nuclear energy, back-up plants and flexible storage solutions.

However, European TSO groups for the electricity and gas sectors – Entso-E and Entso-G – had presented long-term draft development scenarios that were out of touch with reality, said Ruby.

“Not CO2 free”
For example, they estimated that up to 25% of gas the EU imported by mid-century would not be decarbonised, meaning the forecasts were not aligned with the EC’s long-term strategy of carbon neutrality.

Power to gas, which sources electricity from excess renewables and transform it into hydrogen, was not necessarily the answer either, said Ruby.

“It’s a risky bet to say green gases [such as hydrogen] will [be plentiful]. If we base ourselves on flawed scenarios, the methodology is going to be flawed as well.”

Producing hydrogen in big volumes would require an even greater build-out of electric generation capacity, he added.

“It’s not that simple. If you have very cheap electricity, you would rather use it than convert into hydrogen. When you opt for hydrogen, you need more electricity,” said Ruby, highlighting up to 40% of energy was lost from then converting carbon neutral gases back into power.

“We are not advocating an all-electric strategy and we need to inject carbon neutral gases into the grid but they will only be available in limited amounts,” he said.

The TSO groups said they would respond to the criticism in the coming weeks.