About 50% of the current energy demand in the Netherlands is met by natural gas. In this country, getting the production of renewable energy going has proved difficult. In recent years, progress has been made in the development of wind and solar energy for the production of green electricity. But processes that still rely heavily on natural gas must also be made more sustainable, through electrification where possible (and cost-effective), or through the use of sustainable gases. As a result, the need for sustainable gas is increasing rapidly.
The demand for sustainable gases arises from specific applications in the following sectors:
- Deliver sufficient heat at times of peak demand
- Supply heat for urban centres where electricity or heat grids are limited
- Feedstock for the chemical industry
- For high-temperature processes (not possible with electricity)
- Heavy transport (by road)
- Supply of electricity during peak demand or with too little sun/wind
More sustainable gases
In 2050, between 30 and 40% of the total Dutch energy demand will be met by sustainable gases.
About 50% of the current energy demand in the Netherlands is met by natural gas. The average gas consumption per household in the Netherlands is approximately 1,250 cubic metres per year, though this varies significantly depending on the type of home. In the built environment, gas is used for hot water (showering), though mainly for heating (about 75%). The peak in heating demand and gas consumption typically occurs in the winter when it is cold and the production of renewable electricity is lower.
In the current energy system, the flexibility to handle the daily difference in off-peak and peak consumption throughout the year and the seasonal difference between summer and winter is supplied by gas (mainly natural gas), directly by burning gas in a high-efficiency boiler or indirectly through electricity generated using gas. With a major role for renewable electricity and heat in the future energy mix, in addition to these weather-dependent (wind and solar) energy sources, the role of green molecules as a source of flexibility will increase. Green molecules can be stored and reused on a large scale, quickly and cost-effectively.
Sustainable gases can be used directly in homes and in industry. And using the existing infrastructure (for transmission and storage) for natural gas means no lead times or costs for expanding the energy infrastructure to be able to use sustainable gases in homes and industries.
Furthermore, the use of green molecules will be needed to make feedstocks more sustainable for ‘hard to abate’ industries (those that cannot be made more sustainable with electrons or only at prohibitively high costs).