Natural gas has long been one of the main energy sources in the world and could further acquire a key role in the “energy transition “, as recently highlighted by the Global Gas Report 2020 of International Gas Union (IGU), BloombergNEF (BNEF) and Snam and, on the Italian front, from the projections of Studio Confindustria – Nomisma Energia ” Natural gas system – transition and competitiveness “, presented in November 2019.
Despite the temporary decline in consumption expected for 2020 due to the Covid-19 pandemic, a new season of gas consumption growth is expected , even in Italy, where the hypothesis is that they will rise, albeit slightly, up to 2025 , to then stabilize above 80 billion cubic meters per year , against the current 75 billion cubic meters.
In the transition from the most polluting fossil sources to renewables , which in the next decade will experience a critical phase, in Europe and in Italy, thanks to the ambitious goals set by the European Union and national governments, natural gas is destined to play several fundamental roles in energy system, starting from the management of the intermittency and seasonality of energy supply and demand , but also to favor the reduction of the intensity of emissions in the transport sector.
The use of gas is questioned by those who would like a direct passage to RES alone, yet the aforementioned Confindustria-Nomisma study underlines how the primacy that Italy has in the use of gas would be an asset to be exploited precisely for the achievement of the decarbonisation objectives , through clear strategic lines, which first of all envisage: strengthening integration with the electricity system , (from the accumulation of renewable sources, up to micro generation / cogeneration in homes); to introduce low carbon gas technologies (CCS and others) and to continue the efficient exploitation of existing infrastructure, also by diversifying sources and supply routes, to make the European market more competitive and less subject to the consequences of geopolitical tensions.
With a joint document Bulgaria, the Czech Republic, Greece, Hungary, Lithuania, Poland, Romania and Slovakia have already taken a clear stance, declaring: ” In the years to come, renewable and decarbonised gases will gradually replace natural gas, creating new opportunities for the industrial and energy sector “. Biogas, biomethane, green hydrogen and “synthetic methane” are in fact forms of “renewable gas” which, although deriving from different technological processes, have some common characteristics: they are produced from renewable sources.
In addition to these new production frontiers, energy operators also feel a strong impulse towards energy efficiency, or to study new solutions that make natural gas consumption more efficient , thus requiring lower consumption of the resource (and consequently lower emissions). and intervening on forms of compensation. The vision of E.ON , one of the main energy operators in Italy, travels in this direction and offers supply solutions on the Italian market that, in addition to differentiating themselves in terms of gas tariffs, give the possibility to join an environmental compensation project called Boschi E. ON – born in collaboration with AzzeroCO2 – which counts today34 emissions-absorbing forests in 8 Italian regions , covering 99.6 hectares and more than 101,489 trees planted.