Gasunie and TenneT: Energy system transformation needs stronger cooperation between electricity and gas networks

15 Feb 2019

Gasunie and TenneT present their joint study "Infrastructure Outlook 2050" for Germany and the Netherlands. One result is that the coupling of electricity and gas grids will advance energy system transformation in Europe and strengthen security of supply.

In order to successfully advance the energy transition in Germany and achieve the climate targets, electricity and gas grids must be more closely interlinked by 2050. The energy system of the future will be based on fluctuating renewable energies and will pose new challenges for the electricity grids. The comprehensive coupling of sectors such as energy, transport, industry and heat provides the energy system with the necessary flexibility and provides additional transport options for renewables. This is one of the findings of the study "Infrastructure Outlook 2050" by the transmission system operators TenneT Deutschland and TenneT Netherlands and the gas network operators Gasunie Deutschland and Gasunie Netherlands. The study looks at both Germany and the Netherlands.

"To use 80 percent and more renewables, we need not only the right power grid infrastructure, but also alternative transport solutions and efficient storage facilities such as the gas grid and power-to-gas. This will advance sector coupling and relieve the load on the electricity grid. In the future, this may mean that we will have to build fewer additional networks beyond current demand," said Manon van Beek, CEO of TenneT. "It is now up to politicians to set the course. This applies to the expansion of the electricity grid, which needs the support of the federal and state governments, as well as to the power-to-gas plants for the production of green hydrogen. Here we urgently need to think about the appropriate framework that will make it possible to further develop power-to-gas quickly and economically." TenneT had already made a proposal last year with the tender for additional offshore wind generation linked to power-to-gas.

"Politicians in Germany and the Netherlands are setting ambitious climate targets - these can only be achieved with the help of sector coupling. Our joint study clearly shows the requirements and limitations of a future CO2-neutral energy system. In order to be able to cope with the increasing fluctuations in the energy network, we must coordinate our gas and electricity infrastructures seamlessly," said Han Fennema, CEO of Gasunie.

"The gas infrastructure offers the possibility of both transporting electricity generated from renewable sources over large areas and storing it comprehensively. The power-to-gas technology as a link between the infrastructures must now be initiated, however, in order to be able to make significant contributions by 2030. This requires rapid pragmatic political decisions," stressed Gasunie Deutschland Managing Director Jens Schumann.

Together with Thyssengas, Gasunie and TenneT are planning a 100 megawatt power-to-gas plant in Lower Saxony which will gradually be connected to the grid from 2022 and will convert green electricity into gas in order to tap new storage potential for renewable electricity. The "ELEMENT EINS" project pursues the comprehensive coupling of the energy, transport and industrial sectors on an industrial scale. This means that the green electricity converted into gas can not only be transported from the North Sea to the Ruhr area via existing gas pipelines, but can also be made available to industry for mobility via hydrogen filling stations and storage in caverns.

About the study

The Infrastructure Outlook 2050 is a joint study by TenneT and Gasunie on the future of the energy system in Germany and the Netherlands. It provides information on the major changes needed in the current fossil-fuel-dominated energy system to meet the Paris Climate Targets (COP21) by 2050. The infrastructure outlook considers three different scenarios for the future energy system 2050, which are based on findings from various studies.