Supporters and opponents from the gas sector experienced each other's views during the National Debate on Sustainable Gases (Nationaal Debat Duurzame Gassen)
No one-size-fits-all solution
The broad outlines of the climate agreement clearly show that there is no 'one-size-fits-all' solution for the climate problem. If we want to meet the targets in good time, therefore, it is not a question of either/or but of both/and…and…and…and. This means that, whilst generating renewable energy via solar and wind power, we must simultaneously develop and use all other alternatives so that we can meet our energy requirements sustainably and achieve the climate objectives for 2030 and 2050.
In addition to sun and wind, hydrogen and green gas also contribute towards sustainable practices in the Netherlands; we need electrons from electricity as much as molecules from sustainable gases. This is the opinion of the Royal Dutch Gas Association (KVGN), the branch organisation that represents the Dutch gas sector. But what do others think? Those for and against discussed these points with each other on 12 September during the National Debate on Sustainable Gases.
Opportunities for the Netherlands
Diederik Samsom opened the debate as keynote speaker, with an impassioned plea to all parties to stop vying with each other to show off ever better sustainable alternatives. With 7.5 million homes requiring sustainable improvements, the market is big enough for everyone. Instead of this, he said, parties should get together to do everything they can to innovate so that upscaling and, as a result, price reductions are implemented. There's an opportunity here for the Netherlands to lead the way.
Key role for hydrogen
Hydrogen is a popular topic; it has a broad range of applications but for the time being we need to focus on how we use it. Hydrogen plays a key role in making our energy and industrial processes more sustainable. Hydrogen can be used as a raw material for industry, as a clean fuel for cars and as a new method for transporting and storing sustainable electricity. During the debate it became clear that investment in the development of hydrogen chains is required right away so that far greater quantities of sustainable energy can be incorporated cost-effectively into the system even after 2030 and so that the necessary CO2 reduction can be achieved before 2030. The panel put forward different views regarding whether blue hydrogen, in the first instance, must play an important role in paving the way for and accelerating the energy transition. But when it came to defining green hydrogen's vital role in the future fully sustainable energy system, the panel was united again.
Blue and green ensure integration
But there's more going on with sustainable gases, such as green gas. There are already around 100 million m3 of green gas in the Netherlands. The need for greater volumes of green gas can be met by developing and upscaling new technologies such as supercritical water gasification and high-pressure fermentation. To this end, the gas sector is supporting different technologies and helping to develop green gas projects. Concerns were raised during the debate about the origin of biomass and, consequently, the sustainability of green gas. The panel members were united in their opinion that this must be sustainable.
Blue and green hydrogen and green gas therefore contribute towards the integration of sustainable electricity into the whole energy system. With better innovative technologies on the horizon, green gas in particular will provide the first short-term boost to the use of green molecules. A further boost is expected to follow from the use of hydrogen, which will impact upon the scale required at a later stage.
Necessity to commit
In short, the National Debate on Sustainable Gases showed that, in addition to a total commitment to electrification and to the generation of sustainable electricity, all sectors also need to commit fully to making gases more sustainable by using hydrogen and green gas in order to meet climate targets. This message will be sent to the chairpersons by all participating parties as a challenge for the second round of climate agreement talks.