In order to successfully promote the energy transition and achieve climate targets, electricity and gas grids must be more closely interlinked by 2050. What the transition paths towards such an integrated energy system could look like shows the new study by transmission system operator TenneT and gas infrastructure company Gasunie. The study with a European approach concentrates on Germany and the Netherlands. The now published Phase II study follows on from the "Infrastructure Outlook 2050" published in February 2019 and shows that the electricity infrastructure will have to be significantly expanded even after 2030. The gas infrastructure must be adapted for the transport of hydrogen; a minor expansion is also necessary.
According to the study it is important to plan the energy transmission infrastructures for electricity, hydrogen and methane in a timely and integrated manner. This helps to avoid stranded assets, which would ultimately lead to high costs for energy consumers. Here, the timing, amount, type and location of investment decisions in renewable energies (i.e. production), but especially in future (large) consumers (i.e. consumption), play an important role for an efficient energy infrastructure. Early and close coordination of energy production and consumption with the development of an integrated energy infrastructure is essential, if the latter is to be built in time. To provide the necessary long-term storage capacity, power-to-gas will play an important role. The study estimates a capacity of up to 110 gigawatts in Germany and the Netherlands.
Another result of the study is the potential of the European approach to energy infrastructure integration. TenneT CEO Manon van Beek: “We need to integrate the gas and electricity grids to achieve the energy policy objectives. To do this we need an integrated European energy system. National energy transitions are important and will bring the first significant steps towards the expansion of renewables. But if we want the energy transition to be timely and affordable, we will need a close political cooperation within Europe.”
Han Fennema, CEO Gasunie: “The existing gas and electricity networks jointly play a crucial role in the energy system of the future. In order to cope with increasing fluctuations in the energy network we need our gas and electricity infrastructures to be seamlessly aligned. Linking TenneT's network to Gasunie's will provide the flexibility required by the energy system; it will also keep the system reliable and affordable.”
The Phase II study:
“Phase II” is a joint study by TenneT and Gasunie that looks at possible transition paths from 2030 to an integrated energy system in 2050. It thus continues the investigations of the study "Infrastructure Outlook 2050" published last year by the two network operators. "Phase II" focuses on Germany and the Netherlands, but also highlights Europe. The study considers three different scenarios based on the findings of various studies: While all scenarios assume that decarbonisation will be largely achieved, they differ in terms of the type and quantity of renewable energies and in terms of energy consumption (Focus on either electricity or gas).