f.l.t.r.: Dr. Dieter Steinkamp, RheinEnergie AG, Henning Deters, Gelsenwasser AG, Dr. Jörg Bergmann, Open Grid Europe GmbH, Dr. Harald Hecking, ewi Energy Research & Scenarios gGmbH, Alexander Land, Open Grid Europe GmbH

Press Release ewi ER&S

Study reveals benefits of gas and heat infrastructure for energy transition

  • Substantial contribution from gas and heat infrastructure to efficient CO2 avoidance in an uncertain future.
  • Gas and heat infrastructure represents flexibility and openness to different technologies.
  • A technologically unbiased approach involving gas and heat infrastructure will save around 140 billion euros by 2050.

Düsseldorf, 23 November 2017. ewi Energy Research & Scenarios (ewi ER&S), Gelsenwasser, Open Grid Europe and RheinEnergie joined forces today to present the results of the study “Energy Market 2030 and 2050 – The Contribution of Gas and Heat Infrastructure to Efficient CO2 Reduction” at a press conference in Düsseldorf. The study, which was commissioned by the three companies and produced by ewi ER&S, reveals the contribution existing gas and heat grids can make to efficient greenhouse gas reduction by 2030 and 2050. To this end, the authors examine two possible scenarios of greenhouse gas reduction in line with the German climate goals up to 2030 and 2050. In the Revolution Scenario, they assume forced electrification of the final energy consumption sectors in accordance with legislation, in which gas and heat grids become increasingly less important. In the Evolution Scenario, on the other hand, there are no statutory provisions regarding specific technologies, and existing gas and heat grids continue to operate.

In both scenarios the climate goals can be reached, according to one of the key results of the study, but the Evolution Scenario would save around 140 billion euros in costs by 2050. In addition, this scenario offers more flexibility, making it more cost-efficient to react to the technological developments we cannot yet foresee after 2030. This avoids lock-in effects resulting from a premature commitment to certain technologies, which would end up being economically disadvantageous in the Revolution Scenario.

“An approach that does not give preference to certain technologies would achieve the greenhouse gas reduction goals at considerably lower costs than extensive electrification of final energy consumption,” said the managing director of ewi ER&S, Dr Harald Hecking, at the presentation of the study results. “Since we do not yet know how markets and technologies will develop over the coming decades, this route also offers more flexibility and opportunities for an uncertain future.”

“The results show that with the existing infrastructure, it is possible to avoid a great deal of CO2 even in the short term. We need to stop discussing theoretical plans and start implementing them concretely. By not giving preference to specific technologies, we create room for manoeuvre in Germany and in Europe. It is becoming clear that the distribution grids for gas and electricity are the linchpin in all of this,” explains Henning Deters, CEO at Gelsenwasser.

“None of us is able to predict the future. It’s therefore important, especially with long-term projects like the energy transformation, to leave all technological options open in order to achieve the CO2 savings we are aiming for. The study clearly reveals that use of the existing gas and heat infrastructure is the most logical way. That’s why we are appealing for an implementation of the energy transition that is oriented towards consumers and hence costs and public acceptance, with openness to different technologies and freedom of ideology,” explains Dr Jörg Bergmann, chairman of the board of management at Open Grid Europe.

“This way, up to 2030, we can avoid any ‘lock-in effects’ that would result from pinning our hopes on one particular technology,” said Dr Dieter Steinkamp, CEO of RheinEnergie in Cologne. “On the contrary: We maintain ample room for manoeuvre and are thus also able to take into consideration further technological progress and, where appropriate, integrate it. We need the greatest possible flexibility on the road to the future; the study shows clearly how that can be achieved.”

The study highlights once again, on a scientific basis, that in both scenarios gas and the gas infrastructure, as well as the heat market overall, will be essential components of the future energy system. With electricity generation from renewable sources set to double until 2030 and even quadruple until to 2050, the use of gas-fired power plants for the provision of secure energy supplies in each scenario is crucial for the future energy system.

The study “Energy Market 2030 and 2050 – The Contribution of Gas and Heat Infrastructure to Efficient CO2 Reduction” (“Energiemarkt 2030 und 2050 – Der Beitrag von Gas- und Wärmeinfrastruktur zu einer effizienten CO2-Minderung”) can be viewed via the following link: http://www.ewi.research-scenarios.de/cms/wp-content/uploads/2017/11/ewi_ERS_Energiemarkt_2030_2050.pdf