We need to develop appropriate strategies and measures that, on the one hand, make the best contribution towards achieving the climate targets and, on the other hand, ensure a secure and affordable energy supply.
The Association of European TSOs Entsog has defined a clear concept for this in the Roadmap 2050 for Gas Networks. In order for the energy transition to be successful, alongside electricity, we also need storable gaseous energy sources, as shown by the high share of gas production on winter days and the ongoing use of gas-fired power plants to stabilise the electricity grids. Through intelligent coupling of the electricity and gas sectors, both energy sources can be used optimally and, at the same time, the supply can be ensured regardless of the weather.
In order for gas grid operators to contribute to the energy transition, appropriate regulatory framework conditions are needed, such as the regulatory concession to operate power-to-gas plants that convert excess green electricity into storable green gas. With the submission of the project "H2EART" (Hydrogen to Europe – Austrian Regional Turntable) as an Important Project of Common European Interest (IPCEI) in the Federal Ministry, Gas Connect Austria is showing possible ways of realising a future hydrogen supply in Austria and converting the Baumgarten gas hub into a hydrogen hub. Gas network operators have extensive experience and in-depth know-how in the handling of gaseous substances and are therefore valuable partners for a future cross-sectoral energy system.
Energy hub Austria – the future for hydrogen
Due to its location in the middle of Europe, Austria will also have to import renewable energy in the future, as 100% electricity production from the sun and wind is not possible. In order for hydrogen to be able to reach domestic consumers from wind- and sun-rich regions, a cross-border European hydrogen transport infrastructure is necessary. The foundation for this is laid by the plans for the European Hydrogen Backbone (EHB) – a concept developed by 11 transmission system operators from the EU to create future links between European hydrogen clusters as they are currently emerging.
Gas Connect Austria has recently decided to participate in the EHB and we are actively involved in the further development and implementation of this concept, which is so important for building a European hydrogen market. The Austrian gas infrastructure is very well developed and is essential for supplying Austria and neighbouring countries. Joining the EHB is a logical step towards fulfilling the responsible role of linking European energy supply, today and in the future. Not all countries will have the opportunity and the resources to produce green hydrogen cost-effectively. Gas Connect Austria will continue to play a stronger role at the national and European level and will participate in solutions for the transport of renewable gas in the context of the energy transition.