Gas routes to Europe: Real needs and political jockeying

Gas routes to Europe: Real needs and political jockeying / Laura Parmigiani. Paris : IFRI, avril 2012, 22 p. (Actuelles de l’Ifri)

The Energy Roadmap 2050 released by the Commission in December 2011 says it all: we will need more gas until 2030. Gas represents the default solution for a transition to an energy system with less GHG emissions. It also has great value as a back up for intermittent renewable power generation. Therefore, stating that Europe still needs large quantities of gas means checking if supply volumes are available to satisfy growing demand.
Internationally there was an extraordinary abundance of gas in 2011, due to the expansion of US shale gas output. At the European level, the economic crisis and the particularly mild winter (until February 2012) further amplified this situation. European gas prices were far cheaper on spot markets and large volumes were still available in most countries.
Despite this context, European gas demand is set to increase and gas will represent one of the main energies in the fuel mix, in the years to come. In fact, situations differ from country to country, while European legislation aiming at lowering the carbon content of our economies and of our energy mixes will push member states (like Poland) to replace progressively more polluting fuels (coal and oil) with gas. Other political choices may influence gas demand, such as Germany’s exit from nuclear power. In fact, one of the fastest and cheapest solutions to replace base load nuclear generation is the construction of Combined Cycle Gas power plants.
As carbon capture storage is still waiting for favorable price signals,  and as domestic gas production is diminishing rapidly in all Member States and EEA countries, attention is clearly focusing on the security of supply and on import infrastructures… (© IFRI)

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