The European Union will likely include natural gas in its energy transition plans as some member states that are heavily reliant on coal at the moment would need an “intermediary stage”, the head of the EU green deal team Frans Timmermans said, as quoted by Bloomberg.
“We will have to also invest in natural gas infrastructure,” Timmermans said at the COP26 climate summit in Scotland. “As long as we do it with an eye of only doing this for a period, then I think this is a justified investment.”
Some EU member states such as Poland and Bulgaria rely heavily on coal for their energy generation, and they also have sizeable mining industries that will need to be taken care of along the way to net zero. In this context, and based on Timmermans’ comments, natural gas will indeed acquire the role of a bridge fuel between the fossil fuel era and the renewable era.
Recently, the bridge-fuel status of gas has been called into question by environmentalists and EU officials who believe that the shift away from all fossil fuels must be done as quickly as possible. As the gas crunch in Europe proved this will be quite a challenge, it seems that clearer heads have prevailed.
However, the EU is making an effort to highlight the fact that gas is only being accepted as a temporary member of the green energy club—not a permanent one.
“Where, and as long as, clean energy cannot yet be deployed on the scale needed, fossil gas may still play a role in the transition from coal to zero emission electricity,” Timmermans said in March this year. “But I want to be crystal clear with you—fossil fuels have no viable future. That also goes for fossil gas, in the longer run.”