Energy transition in Belgium
We will get there
The energy transition requires all of us to work towards the goal of carbon neutrality. Fluxys fully supports the climate goals set out in the Paris agreement and the European Green Deal, and we are pressing ahead to enable a 100% carbon neutral energy system by 2050. Human ingenuity, entrepreneurship and teamwork will get us there. These qualities are at the heart of our success today and give us confidence in the future.
Hydrogen and carbon infrastructure for Belgium
Action speaks louder than words. In our core business of gas infrastructure we are pressing ahead to reconfigure our assets in Belgium to help achieve climate neutrality in 2050. Based on our experience with natural gas, we are joining forces with industry and our other stakeholders to develop as from 2025 our infrastructure into 3 complementary systems for transporting methane (in which carbon-neutral biomethane and synthetic methane increasingly will replace quantities of natural gas), hydrogen as well as carbon.
As we make the gas system accommodate carbon-neutral energy carriers and the circular use of captured carbon, we unlock new solutions for the industry in its efforts to achieve sustainable recovery and growth.
The power of the molecule
To decarbonise the energy system we need all hands on deck. As the 2050 projections by the European Commission show, a net-zero emissions energy system will probably be based on about 50% carbon-neutral electricity and about 50% carbon-neutral molecules such as hydrogen (H2), biomethane, synthetic methane and biofuels.
Gas and electricity systems therefore need to work in tandem. This means electrification with green power where possible and clean molecules where it makes more sense. Molecules are good as an energy carrier for heating, fuelling hard to electrify sectors like heavy industry and heavy transport, and for storing green power.
The European Commission considers hydrogen essential to reach carbon neutrality. When used as a fuel, hydrogen is carbon free and essentially emits water vapour. It is also an important feedstock for the chemicals industry. Hydrogen can be blended with natural gas in the gas systems up to a certain level. Repurposing existing natural gas pipelines is a cost-efficient solution to transport 100% hydrogen.
Biogas is carbon neutral and is produced from organic matter such as sludge, garden waste, the remains of fruit and vegetables, or animal waste like cow manure. When biogas is purified into biomethane, it can be transported via the existing natural gas systems without restriction.
Combining green hydrogen with captured carbon creates synthetic methane. Synthetic methane is carbon-neutral as it recycles captured carbon. It can be transported via the existing natural gas systems without restriction, just like biomethane.
Where carbon emissions (CO2) can't be avoided, they have to be captured. Some sectors such as the steel, cement and lime industries will always generate carbon emissions as these are a by-product of the industrial process itself. Captured carbon can be re-used in products such as polymers or steel, or in the production of synthetic methane. If carbon re-use is not possible, it has to be stored, for example in empty oil or gas fields. The technology is called carbon capture and utilization/storage (CCUS) and Fluxys has a key role as provider of the infrastructure needed to move captured carbon to where it is re-used or stored.
The power of pipelines
The cost savings of using gas infrastructure to deliver on the energy transition are huge. A comprehensive study found that the use of green gas through existing gas infrastructure across the EU saves society €217 billion annually by 2050 compared to an energy system using a minimal amount of gas.
Gas infrastructure today provides society with an energy that has the lowest climate and health impact among fossil fuels. As we switch the gas infrastructure to accommodate increasing amounts of carbon-neutral gas, it serves as a highly efficient platform for a carbon-neutral energy system.
Gas infrastructure provides huge capacities to store and transport energy while offering massive amounts of peak load capacity as well. This is how it adds to the energy system the necessary resilience to cope with both the large amounts of energy and peak capacity required for heating, power generation, and back-up of variable renewable power generation.
Fluxys has confidence in the future. What will get us there is teamwork and collaboration, with open innovation strengthening our efforts. We embrace the energy transition standing on the shoulders of Belgium’s best engineers, energy economists and researchers.
Currently we have two complementary research projects on power-to-gas with the Vlerick Business School and the University of Liège. The research with the University of Liège explores the potential of power-to-gas in Belgium and how to invest optimally in energy networks. The study with Vlerick Business School examines the economic interactions between power-to-gas and the electricity market.