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Centre for Energy Economics Research

Faculteit Economie en Bedrijfskunde
Centre for Energy Economics Research
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The future of gas in an electrified Europe

Datum:04 juni 2018
Presentation of the report in Brussel
Presentation of the report in Brussel

The report ‘Gas and the electrification of heating & transport: scenarios for 2050’ was presented in Brussels on 23 May by a team of researchers including University of Groningen Professor Machiel Mulder. The report, which was commissioned by the Centre on Regulation in Europe (CERRE), shows that gas-fired power stations are essential in three different scenarios of the electrification of Europe’s transport and domestic heating and cooking sectors. According to CERRE Director General Professor Bruno Liebhaberg, the findings of the report contradict much of what we have been hearing over the last few years.

The research looked at three scenarios of differing degrees of electrification of transport and domestic heating and cooking sectors in the Netherlands, Belgium, Austria, Germany and France. The first scenario, ‘business as usual’, shows what would happen with no policy changes. The second scenario is an intermediate situation of 50% electrification and 50% business as usual. The third scenario is the full electrification of the two sectors. In both the second and third scenarios, the research shows that electricity demand will rise significantly, making it necessary to turn to gas power stations. This will also be the case if the renewable energy plans of the different governments are fully implemented. Renewable energy sources will not be able to meet the extra demand for electricity.

It should be stressed that Mulder and the other researchers do not claim to be making forecasts or policy recommendations with the results. They say these are merely an extra piece in the puzzle, which policymakers, politicians and other scientists should take into account in the decision-making process.

The research shows that the European Commission’s goal of 80% decarbonization by 2050 compared to 1990 will not be feasible in any of the three scenarios because the demand for electricity will rise significantly. Furthermore, the current plans will need a very flexible electricity network that will make it possible to store energy on ‘good weather days’ and use this stored energy on ‘bad weather days’. Investment is needed to create this infrastructure. However, this could lead to the collapse of the European energy market, because the daily models in the research show that there will be no excess supply .

CERRE is an independent think tank and is therefore not for or against any of the scenarios. It commissioned the research because it wanted to see the effect and potential costs of government electrification plans. The organization promotes the robust and consistent regulation of Europe’s network and digital industries. Its members are regulatory authorities and operators from these industries as well as universities.

As the Groningen gas field will be phased out by 2030, the results are particularly relevant for the Netherlands. Mulder and his colleagues are therefore in close contact with Dutch ministries to discuss the results.

More information

Mulder and Moraga González’s study is part of a research project by Brussels organization CERRE. The authors have presented the CERRE report on Wednesday 23 May, which also contains results for Germany, Austria, Belgium and France.

The Groningen Centre for Energy Economics Research (CEER), of which Mulder is director, will host the 41st international conference of the International Association for Energy Economics (IAEE) from 10 to 13 June.

Contact this news article
Maarten Eisema – EU Liaison Officer for Healthy Ageing, Sustainable Society & Energy at the UG and UMCG. See more photos from the presentation of the report in Brussel >>

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