Biomethane, hydrogen will play key role in decarbonising Ireland, report shows

Renewable gases such as biomethane and hydrogen will play a key role in helping Ireland meet its net-zero by 2050 target, according to a new report.

The ‘Hydrogen4EU – Charting pathways to enable net-zero’ report, released on Tuesday, assessed the most effective mix of hydrogen technologies to be deployed across different geographies and sectors in Europe, including power, transport, and industry, and considered factors such as cost, speed, and feasibility.

The report also concluded that natural gas and carbon capture and storage (CCS) remain ‘essential’ in reaching targets, even with higher renewable ambition.

Ervia, a parent company of Ireland’s national gas network operators Gas Networks Ireland (GNI), together with other transmission system operators (TSOs), energy companies, large industrial emitters and industry associations from across the continent supported the report, which looked at two policy scenarios charting pathways for hydrogen to contribute to the EU’s goal of net-zero emissions by 2050.

“Climate change is one of the most urgent global challenges, and failure to tackle it will have significant repercussions for everyone,” said Cathal Marley, Ervia’s CEO.

“Ervia and its subsidiary GNI are committed to playing a central role in addressing climate change through decarbonising Ireland’s gas network in line with Irish and European policy.

“Carbon emissions are a major contributor to climate change and must be significantly reduced. Ireland has committed to a net-zero 2050. Using the existing gas network and renewable gases, such as biomethane which has already been introduced onto Ireland’s gas network and hydrogen, to reduce emissions enhances Ireland’s energy security and achieves this goal at the lowest cost and least disruption.”

A key component of the EU Green Deal and recognised by the European Commission as offering “a solution to decarbonise industrial processes and economic sectors where reducing carbon emissions is both urgent and hard to achieve,” hydrogen is a carbon-free gas that can be stored indefinitely, making it an appealing option to decarbonise the energy system.

The report found that more than half of the total gross final energy consumption will be supplied by non-electrified technologies in 2050 with the contribution of hydrogen in decarbonising the EU energy system exceeding EU projections of 100 million tonnes by 2050.

The report was based on studies and modelling conducted by IFP Énergies Nouvelles, SINTEF, and Deloitte on behalf of the funding partners of Hydrogen4EU.

Deloitte’s economic advisory director for energy and regulation, Johannes Trüby, said: “As the EU takes the first legislative steps to put its 2050 goals into action, the study shows that the contribution of hydrogen to full decarbonisation could go far beyond what the EU Hydrogen Strategy suggests.”

GNI’s role is to ensure the existing gas network is capable of safely transporting and storing hydrogen. To do this, the utility is currently constructing a hydrogen innovation centre in Dublin, which will allow pipelines, meters, and appliances to be tested for use with a range of gases and hydrogen blends.

By gradually replacing natural gas with renewable, carbon-neutral, and ultimately zero-carbon gases, such as biomethane and hydrogen, GNI is striving to deliver a net-zero carbon gas network and reduce emissions across several key sectors, including those that are traditionally hard to decarbonise, such as transport, industry, heating, agriculture, and reliable power generation.

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