Supporting a transition to distributing alternative fuels over existing gas networks
Natural gas serves almost half of Europe’s heating and cooling demand, has become a major source for electricity generation, and is starting to be adopted as a transport fuel. As it produces about half the CO2 emissions of coal, the fuel has helped lower the overall carbon intensity of electricity generation where directly replacing the use of coal.
However, natural gas is a fossil fuel, and distributed through networks that suffer leakage, so continued use as a primary energy source represents a barrier to achieving the Green Deal target of reducing Europe’s greenhouse gas emissions by 55 % from 1990 levels by 2030. Aside from electrification using zero-carbon sources, a transitional course of action might be to reduce the carbon-intensity of gas networks. This could be done by using networks to distribute lower-carbon gases such as bio-methane or hydrogen-enriched natural gas, zero-carbon pure hydrogen, or even apply it to supporting carbon capture and storage (CCS).
However, distributing these gases in existing gas networks is unfeasible without means to ensure reliable billing and standardised methods to ensure quality. Purity specifications have been published and some standards and analytical methods developed, but gaps in measurement infrastructures remain.
The project will develop methods and reference materials to support the development of flow metering specifications, gas composition, physical properties and safety (including leak monitoring). Measurement infrastructures developed in the NEWGASMET project will be enhanced, metering technologies for hydrogen characterised, and flow calibration facilities, primary standards for hydrogen and hydrogen-natural gas mixes developed. Existing flow meters will be tested for compatibility with hydrogen, and primary flow standards developed to meter carbon dioxide and CCS mixtures.
The resulting metrology infrastructures will support reductions in the carbon-intensity of gas grids, so support a potential transition to gas networks more compatible with the Green Deal.