• The future of renewable gases. Our take on the role of renewable gases in the energy transition

      Broeckx, Saskia; Roach, Martin; Meeus, Leonardo (2021)
      The European Green Deal aims to make Europe climate-neutral by 2050. This vision of a net-zero carbon future has prompted the European Commission to up its emission reduction target: by 2030, greenhouse gases should be cut by at least 55% compared to 1990. This target was approved by the European Council in December 2020 but is still to be translated into European legislation. Meeting this target requires decarbonisation of all carbon-intensive energy consumption sectors, i.e. industry, buildings and transport. Quite understandably, the gas sector is concerned about its future. Natural gas is, after all, a carbon-based energy source, which, in the absence of carbon capture and storage, contributes significantly to greenhouse gas emissions. Initially, many thought the energy transition would be an all-electric one. Those who still think so are now in the minority. Electrification is not always feasible, technically or economically. In some cases, full decarbonisation will require the use of alternative clean energy carriers, such as renewable and low-carbon gases, like hydrogen and biomethane. The EU’s Renewable Energy Directive, along with other legislation, is currently being reviewed to update it in line with the new 2030 emission reduction target. This Directive already includes targets for electricity generation from renewable sources, so it is expected that similar targets will be set for renewable gases. Given that technology and infrastructure investments have a lifetime of typically 20 to 60 years, the gas sector has no time to lose. This is why the Fluxys Chair was founded in January 2018. Fluxys is the independent transmission system operator that owns and operates Belgium’s high-pressure natural gas transmission grid, its natural gas storage infrastructure and the liquefied natural gas terminal in Zeebrugge. Through academic research by Professor Leonardo Meeus and doctoral researcher Martin Roach with the Vlerick Energy Centre, the company is seeking to anticipate any upcoming Belgian and EU legislation in order to make informed investment decisions. How can the existing natural gas infrastructure be repurposed for the transport of decarbonised gases? How can we harness the full potential and opportunities of renewable gases? What context is needed to decarbonise the gas sector so that it can play a role in the future integrated energy system? Two years on, it is time to take stock of what we know and what we do not yet know. The white paper ‘The future of renewable gases’ outlines the context of our research, as well as providing background information.
    • The welfare and price effects of sector coupling with power-to-gas

      Roach, Martin; Meeus, Leonardo (2019)
      Electricity markets with high installed capacities of Variable Renewable Energy Sources (VRES) experience periods of supply and demand mismatch, resulting in near-zero and even negative prices, or energy spilling due to surplus. The participation of emerging Power-to-X solutions in a sector coupling paradigm, such as Power-to-Gas (PTG), has been envisioned to provide a source of demand flexibility to the power sector and decarbonize the gas sector. We advance a long-run equilibrium model to study the PTG investment decision from the point of view of a perfectly competitive electricity and gas system where each sector’s market is cleared separately but coupled by PTG. Under scenarios combining PTG technology costs and electricity RES targets, we study whether or not there is a convergence in the optimal deployment of PTG capacity and what is the welfare distribution across both sectors. We observe that PTG can play an important price-setting role in the electricity market, but PTG revenues from arbitrage opportunities erodes as more PTG capacity is installed. We find that the electricity and gas sector have aligned incentives to cooperate around PTG, and instead find an issue of misaligned incentives related to the PTG actor. Although not the focus of our analysis, in some scenarios we find that the welfare optimal PTG capacity results in a loss for the PTG actor, which reveals some intuition that subsidizing PTG can make sense to reduce the cost of RES subsidies. A sensitivity analysis is conducted to contextualize these findings for system specificities.
    • The welfare and price effects of sector coupling with power-to-gas

      Roach, Martin; Meeus, Leonardo (Energy Economics, 2020)
      Electricity markets with high installed capacities of Variable Renewable Energy Sources (VRES) experience periods of supply and demand mismatch, resulting in near-zero and even negative prices, or energy spilling due to surplus. The participation of emerging Power-to-X solutions in a sector coupling paradigm, such as Power-to-Gas (PTG), has been envisioned to provide a source of demand flexibility to the power sector and decarbonize the gas sector. We advance a long-run equilibrium model to study the PTG investment decision from the point of view of a perfectly competitive electricity and gas system where each sector's market is cleared separately but coupled by PTG. Under scenarios combining PTG technology costs and electricity RES targets, we study whether or not there is a convergence in the optimal deployment of PTG capacity and what is the welfare distribution across both sectors. We observe that PTG can play an important price-setting role in the electricity market, but PTG revenues from arbitrage opportunities erodes as more PTG capacity is installed. We find that the electricity and gas sector have aligned incentives to cooperate around PTG, and instead find an issue of misaligned incentives related to the PTG actor. Although not the focus of our analysis, in some scenarios we find that the welfare optimal PTG capacity results in a loss for the PTG actor, which reveals some intuition that subsidizing PTG can make sense to reduce the cost of RES subsidies. Sensitivity analyses are conducted to contextualize these findings for system specificities.
    • The welfare and price effects of sector coupling with power-to-gas

      Roach, Martin; Meeus, Leonardo (2021)
      Electricity markets with high installed capacities of Variable Renewable Energy Sources (VRES) experience periods of supply and demand mismatch, resulting in near-zero and even negative prices, or energy spilling due to surplus. The participation of emerging Power-to-X solutions in a sector coupling paradigm, such as Power-to-Gas (PTG), has been envisioned to provide a source of demand flexibility to the power sector and decarbonize the gas sector. We advance a long-run equilibrium model to study the PTG investment decision from the point of view of a perfectly competitive electricity and gas system where each sector's market is cleared separately but coupled by PTG. Under scenarios combining PTG technology costs and electricity RES targets, we study whether or not there is a convergence in the optimal deployment of PTG capacity and what is the welfare distribution across both sectors. We observe that PTG can play an important price-setting role in the electricity market, but PTG revenues from arbitrage opportunities erodes as more PTG capacity is installed. We find that the electricity and gas sector have aligned incentives to cooperate around PTG, and instead find an issue of misaligned incentives related to the PTG actor. Although not the focus of our analysis, in some scenarios we find that the welfare optimal PTG capacity results in a loss for the PTG actor, which reveals some intuition that subsidizing PTG can make sense to reduce the cost of RES subsidies. Sensitivity analyses are conducted to contextualize these findings for system specificities.