More gas use in 2015 and 2016 makes CO2 emissions tumble
Brussels, 10 April 2017: Natural gas consumption in the EU - 28 increased by 4% in 2015 , compared with 2014, and by another 7% in 2016, compared with 2015 , the recent Eurogas statistical exercise showed. As a result, CO2 emissions in the EU’s power generation sector dropped by 4.5% in 2016, mainly due to a large switch from coal to gas.1
“In the UK, power sector CO2 emissions even decreased by as much as 18.7% thanks to gas2,” Eurogas Secretary General Beate Raabe points out, “and its potential to reduce CO2 emissions in all sectors is still large: 66% in power generation, 42% in heating and 25% in transport. Blend in renewable gas over timeand emissions can go towards zero.”
As the winters of 2015 and 2016 were colder, more gas was particularly used for heating in EU households. This shows the flexibility of the gas system, compared with the limitations of the power grid, to cope with large differences in demand. Gas demand also grew in power generation, industry and transport in some countries in 2015 and more widely in 2016. A lot more electricity was produced from gas in France (+61%), where combined-cycle gas turbines (CCGTs) became more competitive, and in the Netherlands.
“Gas use is also very efficient and a switch from coal and oil can gain 45% in power generation and 65% in heating”, says Ms Raabe. New gas heating systems are the most economic way to realise the energy transition in buildings. The recently launched Eurogas microsite www.gaswindandsun.eu provides these and further details.
Gas works well with variable renewables, such as wind and sun, but also ambient heat. Agora and Fraunhofer have pointed out the role of natural gas is in heating.3 Also in Germany, electricity from gas stepped in during lower wind availability in 2016.4 As full electrification is facing high costs5 and technical limits, the flexibility and energy storage capability of the existing gas grid are becoming more apparent.
In the transport sector, gas is gaining new market share both as compressed natural gas (CNG) and liquid natural gas (LNG). CNG for cars, vans and fleet vehicles have grown particularly popular in Czechia. LNG is increasingly becoming available for trucks and as a maritime fuel, like recently in Rotterdam and in Baltic and Mediterranean ports, reducing all transport emissions and helping ships meet sulphur regulations.
Gas demand increased in 23 Member States and in Switzerland between 2015 and 2016 to 4 928.6 TWh GCV, equivalent to 456.3 bcm or 381.4 mtoe NCV.6 It very slightly decreased only in Finland. European production is further declining, whilst the availability of LNG is increasing, particularly from the Americas.
Supplies of renewable gases are also developing. In 2016 France recorded the largest increase of biomethane injected into the national gas grid: 162% compared with 2015. Several power-to-gas plants turning excess renewable electricity into hydrogen or synthetic methane are operating in the EU.
1 Energy Transition in the Power Sector in Europe: State of Affairs in 2016, Agora and Sandbag, https://sandbag.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/2017/01/Energy-Transition-in-t...
2 UK department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy: https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/fil...
3 https://www.agora-energiewende.de/fileadmin/Projekte/2016/Sektoruebergre... : “A climate friendly building heating mix in 2030 consists of 40 percent natural gas, 25
percent heat pumps, and 20 percent heat networks.”
5 See for example studies in the UK and Spain: http://www.energynetworks.org/gas/futures/gas-futures-reports.html + https://www.sedigas.es/pagina.php?p=257
6 TWh GCV = terawatt-hours gross calorific value; bcm = billion cubic metres; mtoe NVC = million tonnes of oil equivalent net calorific value - Based on terawatt hours, the applied calorific values (10.8 kWh/cubic metre GCV; 11.63 TWh/MTOE NCV; NCV = 0.9 GCV) represent a European average.
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