Renewable and low-carbon fuels to play an important role in energy mix, experts say

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For decarbonising the energy sector, renewable and low-carbon fuels will play an important role in the global energy mix. Of these, renewable fuels will be beneficial because they can be readily applied to the already existing infrastructure. This was among what emerged during Eurogas’ Annual Regional Conference, which took place in Ljubljana, Slovenia.

The event stressed the importance of regional cooperation and strategies for the diversification of energy sources, which can help reduce dependence on single suppliers and improve European energy security. Experts agreed that only through cooperation between governments, industry, and civil society can the formulation of policies and strategies for a decarbonised future for gas be achieved.

The renovated proposal for the Integrated Slovenian National Energy and Climate Plan for 2030 predicts an increased share of gaseous RES fuels, such as hydrogen and biomethane, to achieve a share of 10 to 30 per cent of gaseous RES fuels in the total gas supply, 5 per cent of which should come from Slovenia. Many EU countries have made hydrogen strategies and it is expected that the overall production of green hydrogen in the European Union will increase significantly by 2030.

“Today, 3.5 billion cubic metres of biomethane are produced in the European Union,” reported Eurogas. “In order to scale this up, we must make the 35 bcm target set out in REPowerEU binding, which will increase production.”

Sustainable biomass should also be used and at least 5,000 new biogas plants will have to be built.

Yet, experts also agreed that, in addition to renewable fuels, natural gas will remain an important tool for the decarbonisation of the energy sector. The future of energy will involve a combination of different sources.

“We are preparing for that on the strategic and operational level, as our goal is to provide the best possible supply to our customers,” said Matija Bitenc, General Manager of Geoplin, the Slovenian supplier of natural gas which hosted the conference in Ljubljana.

To reach this outcome, Geoplin recalled that Slovenia had to take advantage of two active neighbouring natural gas markets (the Austrian and the Italian) to diversify its supply.  Furthermore, Slovenia has in place a mid-term supply contract for Algerian gas that Geoplin concluded with Sonatrach while maintaining purchasing activities in neighbouring markets.

“Natural gas plays an important role in the green transition as a ready solution for already-available infrastructure, especially for industry and consequentially the economy,” continued Mr Bitenc. “While further diversification of supply sources remains our primary focus to preserve national security of supply, Geoplin will remain active in neighbouring markets and develop alternative energy sources in line with its development strategy.”

“We estimate that the consumption of natural gas in Slovenia will increase further as we transition to completely renewable energy sources, because of the compatibility of their infrastructure,” he added. “After the closure of the thermal power plant and until the construction of a new nuclear power plant in Slovenia, if this decision is accepted, natural gas will be the most important solution for filling the gap we might face in energy supply and ensuring the stabilisation of the energy system, and certainly also at appropriate prices for the competitive industry.”

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