How the existing gas infrastructure can aid decarbonisation in Switzerland

Frontier published an article in the January edition of the Swiss trade magazine Aqua & Gas looking into the options of using renewable gases in the existing gas network in Switzerland.   

The article is based on the findings of a recent study by Frontier and the Institute for Electric Systems and Networks, Digitalisation and Energy (IAEW, RWTH Aachen) on behalf of the Green Gas Initiative.

By 2030, Switzerland intends to cut its emissions to half the level of 1990 and even plans to hit a net-zero emissions target by 2050. In order to realise this ambitious target, the production of renewables in Switzerland must be increased enormously. However, there are  quite difficult geographic conditions in the small alpine country that may threaten this target. Expanding power networks is always accompanied by some resistance from the local population. This is where the existing gas infrastructure comes into place.

Switzerland has a large gas network that can easily be adopted to transport renewable and low-carbon gases. Due to its central position in Europe, Switzerland is excellently connected to the European gas network: gas import capacities in Switzerland exceed electricity import capacities by far. The large variety of different gases that could be transported via the existing gas infrastructure allows for a very diverse import portfolio, reducing energy procurance costs and improving the security of supply.   

Another advantage of gas is that it allows seasonal storage which is considerably less expensive and time consuming, compared to the storage of power from renewable sources. Furthermore, existing end application technologies (as e.g. gas heaters) could still be used and inefficiencies arising from the electrification of industrial processes and certain traffic carriers could be avoided.

The study finds that by 2050, yearly cost savings in the amount of €1.3 – 1.9 billion  can be achieved. Based on the number of inhabitants in Switzerland, this would mean that every inhabitant would save between 155 and 221 euros.

Frontier regularly advises on energy topics and infrastructure perspectives.

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