Engine Power Plants: Are they Needed in Europe’s Future Energy System?
Welcome to this very first edition of our new quarterly newsletter. Its purpose is to keep you informed about the present and future role of engine power plants. Engines are a robust technology with a long history. But they do not belong to the past: working with renewable gases and hydrogen, they will continue to provide much needed reliability and flexibility to the future energy system, without compromising on sustainability.
The publication by the European Commission last February of its plans for a “Hydrogen and Gas markets Decarbonisation Package” gave the (long-awaited) starting shot for the review of EU gas market rules. Together with our sister organisation EUTurbines, EUGINE welcomed this initiative and highlighted the need for an integrated planning of gas and electricity infrastructure. A major concern we underlined was the supply of gas power plants with adequate amounts of clean gases.
Taxonomy — Aligning Sustainability with Energy System Needs
The EU sustainable finance initiative should help steer capital towards sustainable investments – a great step forward. However, to meet its ambition, the EU taxonomy should support the fast transition of gas technologies towards running with renewable and low-carbon energy. As it stands now, it would only ban a technology that is an essential contributor to a reliable energy system.
To reach this goal, gas power plants could be assigned an annual “carbon budget”, equaling the currently suggested hourly threshold. This would still allow flexible engine power plants to jump in whenever wind and sun do not deliver sufficient electricity, all while limiting GHG emissions. As soon as more renewable gases and hydrogen will be available, the plants will switch to clean gases and thus operate fully sustainably. More on how to reach this here.
Review of the RED and EED – A (Welcome) Move in the Right Direction?
We have already said it – the future is renewable. In that sense, EUGINE welcomes the planned review of the renewable energy directive (RED) and of the energy efficiency directive (EED). The new “RED III” should better support the development and use of renewable gases, and the reviewed EED should do more to promote a truly integrated energy system —especially the combined supply of heat/cold and power. However, while “energy efficiency” is often said to be Europe’s “first fuel”, this should not be taken at face value – both the RED and EED are and will be essential in helping the EU reach its climate objectives. But mixing them up will not work.
Hydrogen - (Not a) Hype
Already today, engines are fit to work with hydrogen. Clean hydrogen in engines can generate reliable electricity and help decarbonize heating demand. This is why we are extremely proud that EUGINE and several of our members have been appointed to be members of the European Clean Hydrogen Alliance CEO Roundtables on “Clean Hydrogen for Buildings” and on the “Energy System”.
In addition, this month, EUGINE joined over 90 companies and organisations in a call for recognition of the role of hydrogen blending into the existing gas networks. The injection of a certain —albeit limited— amount of hydrogen is something that is already allowed in some Member States. Common rules would therefore greatly help the hydrogen market to develop.
Did you know...
… that most of the over 18 000 biogas plants in Europe run with a gas engine?
Contrary to the common understanding, “gas” does not equal “fossil”. Biogas is a gas that results from the breakdown of organic matter such as sewage sludge, organic household waste, animal manure or crops. It is usually less “pure” than the gas found in gas networks, but the robust technology of engines allows to easily turn it into electricity and heat. The latest statistics published by the European Biogas Association (EBA) show that, at the end of 2019, there were 18 943 biogas plants in Europe – most of them turning waste into useful energy with the help of an engine!
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EUGINE European Engine Power Plants Association
President: Hermann Kröger Secretary General: Ralf Wezel