Gas networks are a key enabler of decarbonisation, says European White Paper

Ireland’s national gas network and gas networks throughout Europe are key to decarbonising energy systems and achieving net-zero by 2050, according to a European White Paper released in Brussels today.
Published by Gas Distributors for Sustainability (GD4S), “Gas grids: a key enabler of decarbonisation” outlines the potential of renewable gases, the strategic role of gas distribution networks and the commitment of Distribution System Operators (DSOs) to meeting shared climate ambitions. 
The paper also includes 26 policy recommendations to support the decarbonisation of national gas networks and ensure carbon neutrality by 2050 in line with the European Green Deal.
Gas Networks Ireland and DSOs from France, Greece, Italy, Spain, Portugal and Romania supported the development of the paper. 
Gas Networks Ireland Managing Director, Denis O’Sullivan said:
“Gas Networks Ireland is delighted to collaborate with our GD4S colleagues to publish this white paper and list of key policy recommendations, which affirm our commitment to building a carbon-neutral economy and cooperating with policymakers and stakeholders to help achieve climate action targets.
“Ireland has committed to a net-zero energy system by 2050 and, as Ireland’s gas network operator, we are committed to proactively delivering on this ambition.  
“Using the existing gas network infrastructure and renewable gases such as biomethane, which has already been introduced onto Ireland’s gas network, and hydrogen to reduce emissions, not only enhances Ireland’s energy security but achieves this goal cost-effectively and with least disruption.” 
Ireland’s 14,521km national gas network is considered one of the safest and most modern gas networks in Europe. It is the corner stone of Ireland’s energy system, powering more than 30% of Ireland’s primary energy needs, 40% of the country’s heating and 50% of its electricity generation.
The White Paper outlines the importance of flexible and responsive gas networks in the transition to low carbon economies, particularly in terms of sector coupling and system integration between gas and electricity, including the capability of gas networks to transport and store energy, and offer flexible back up for intermittent renewable electricity sources.
The paper also details how renewable gases, such as biomethane and hydrogen, are essential to the energy transition process as carbon intensive fuels are phased out, and highlights GD4S’s commitment to methane emissions mitigation, such as innovation in leak detection, digitalisation of the networks, measurement of emissions through real data and promotion of the use of renewable gases. 
GD4S President Paolo Gallo said:   
"This White Paper allows us present in a single document positions that we, as an Association, have long been advocating. Gas networks will play a key role in both the energy transition and after 2050 when decarbonisation is achieved. 
“Thanks to their extensive reach, new, digital smart grids will soon be able to transport renewable gases, such as biomethane, green hydrogen and synthetic methane, accelerating the achievement of the net-zero targets. DSOs need a clear regulatory framework supporting innovation and investments in upgrading existing networks over the long term.”