Europe is undergoing a profound change focused on decarbonisation to achieve climate neutrality by 2050. To this end, the European Commission (EC) has launched new initiatives and proposals for amendments to existing regulations to achieve this goal.
The Third Energy Package came into force in 2009 with the aim of improving the functioning of the internal energy market, resolving structural problems and promoting harmonisation.
It covers five main areas:
The Third Energy Package consists of two Directives and three Regulations. In the field of natural gas, Directive 2009/73/EC (as amended by Directive 2019/692), Regulation 715/2009 and Regulation 713/2009 establishing ACER.
Regulation 715/2009 also provides for the establishment of European Network Codes in order to promote the completion and functioning of the internal market in natural gas and cross-border trade and to ensure the optimal management, coordinated operation and sound technical evolution of the natural gas transmission network.
The European Network Codes approved to date cover the following areas:
On 15 December 2021, the European Commission presented a legislative proposal updating the Gas Directive and Regulation to include renewable and low-carbon gases.
Regulation 715/2009 provides that every two years ENTSOG must prepare, publish and adopt a non-binding Community-wide Ten Year Network Development Plan (TYNDP), which will be periodically updated, in order to ensure greater transparency in the entire gas transmission network. Similarly, ENTSO-E has to develop this plan for the electricity network.
The latest TYNDP was published in July 2021 and the preparation of the TYNDP 2022, which will be published later this year, is already underway.
On May 18, the European Commission presented the REPowerEU Plan, which aims to ensure the European Union’s security and diversification of supply, reduce energy dependence on Russia and accelerate the decarbonisation and energy transition of the European economy.
The package contains more than a dozen items. The main communication includes a gas infrastructure map identifying the needs for interconnection and infrastructure reinforcement in addition to those included in the current PCI List. Although no infrastructure within the Iberian Peninsula is included, the gas connection between Spain and Italy does feature. It also shows an Iberian hydrogen corridor, complementary to a corridor in North Africa.
The following communications and documents stand out among the items: Electricity Market Design, Solar Strategy, External Energy Strategy, Assessment of the barriers to the development of biogas and biomethane, Energy Savings Strategic Partnership with the Persian Gulf Countries, additional amendments on the Renewable Energy Directive and Recommendation for streamlining the permitting of renewable energy projects and facilitating the expansion of PPAs.
In December 2019, the European Commission presented the European Green Deal with the aim of achieving the EU’s targets of reducing greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions by at least 55% by 2030 and achieving climate neutrality by 2050.
In this context, on 14 July 2021, the European Commission adopted a number of proposals to adapt EU policies on climate, energy, transport and taxation: the so-called Fit for 55 package. The package consists of 14 legislative proposals with a major impact on the energy sector, including the revision of the Directives on Renewable Energy, Energy Efficiency, Energy Taxation, the revision of the EU ETS, FuelEU Maritime Initiative, RefuelAviation Initiative and the Alternative Fuels Infrastructure Regulation.
The European Green Deal focuses on three key principles for the transition to clean energy, which will help reduce GHG emissions and improve the quality of life of citizens:
This includes a review of the gas regulation, which could also lead to an update of the European Network Codes in the future.
Publication of the final texts of the package is expected in 2022 and beyond.
In July 2020, the EC presented the EU Hydrogen Strategy, which sets out a vision of how the EU can turn clean hydrogen into a viable solution to decarbonise different sectors over time, installing at least 6 GW of renewable hydrogen electrolysers by 2024 and 40 GW by 2030.
The Communication on the strategy identifies the challenges to be overcome, sets out the instruments that the EU can mobilise and presents a roadmap of actions for the coming years.
In addition, the European Clean Hydrogen Alliance has been created. Promoted by the European Commission, its main objective is to identify a portfolio of major European projects that will enable the targets of the Hydrogen Strategy to be met. The Alliance is also working to identify barriers (regulatory, technical, trade, etc.) to project development and to put forward recommendations to remove these barriers.
The Alliance has more than 1,300 registered organisations and is structured around six round tables. Enagás is one of the three co-chairs of the Hydrogen Transmission and Distribution roundtable that is part of the Alliance. Each round table has about 45 members
In October 2020, the EC presented an EU Strategy to Reduce Methane Emissions with legislative and non-legislative measures in the energy, agriculture and waste sectors, which account for almost 95% of global methane emissions associated with human activity. The Commission will work with the EU’s international partners and industry to achieve emission reductions along the supply chain.
To reduce methane emissions in the energy sector, an obligation to improve detection and repair of leaks in gas infrastructure will be proposed and legislation to prohibit routine flaring and venting practices will be considered.
A Regulation on methane emissions is being developed and the legislative proposal was published on 15 December 2021.
For more information on Enagás’ emissions reduction commitment, please click here.