Green gas as the key to sustainable heating

Reducing emissions in the buildings, energy and industrial sectors is an essential factor in order to achieve climate-related targets. These sectors jointly account for 54% of Austria’s total greenhouse gas emissions. That’s why a rapid shift away from oil and coal represents the most important action necessary. As an energy source, gas is non-substitutable in many production processes and in segments of the domestic heating market. These processes can only become sustainable through the use of green gas. It is for this reason that Wien Energie is investing EUR 150 million in research into new technologies, such as the production of green gas, in the period to 2023.

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Background information

Gas is one of the key components of Austria’s energy supplies and can be used to generate hot water, for refrigeration, power and as a fuel for the energy sector. Around one fourth of all households are heated using gas. Fossil-based gas is also a major energy source for industrial processes. A switch to environmentally-friendly heating systems, renewable sources of energy or green gas is imperative given that fossil-based gas is responsible for a share of greenhouse gas emissions.

Green gas or renewable gas is a collective term used for all forms of sustainable, gaseous energy sources. A differentiation is made based on the following forms of gas:

  • Biomethane is a flammable gas which is generated from biomass and/or certain forms of waste.
  • Renewable hydrogen is hydrogen which is generated either from biomass and/or certain forms of waste, or from green electricity and water.
  • The term synthetic natural gas refers to methane which is produced synthetically from renewable energy sources.

Gas is used in industrial processes, to generate district heating, in the mobility sector and for the supply of domestic heating and hot water. In the industrial sector, burning gas is the only means of achieving the high temperatures needed for certain industrial processes.

The key to safeguarding these processes in future is to switch from fossil-based gas to green gas. Another advantage of green gas is that it is available around the clock regardless of the weather conditions. This makes it a renewable source of energy which can be deployed very flexibly and which can also be stored for decades.

Peter Weinelt

“The increasing admixture of renewable gas into the grid helps to reduce Austria’s dependency on imports of fossil fuels and to make the energy transformation affordable by using the entire existing gas-related infrastructure. The forecast potential of biomethane and renewable hydrogen means that we can power Austrian households, industry, power stations and the mobility sector with 100% renewable gas by 2050.”

Peter Weinelt, Chairman of the Association of Gas and District Heating Supply Companies (FGW)

Our demands

Despite its considerable potential, green gas will become a scarce resource in future. That is why, during the transition to green gas, we have to first ensure the supply of green gas to those sectors which can’t apply any other technology. Besides the industrial sector, this also means supplying high-efficiency CHP power plants. For this transition to work both commercially and technically, there are a number of different aspects in the household, energy and industrial sectors, as well as in terms of infrastructure expansion, which need to be taken into account.

In order for there to be enough green gas available in Austria, a country-wide incentive programme needs to be established which is market-oriented and which promotes regional value added. One option here would be a system of incentives based on tenders and market premiums, comparable with Austria’s green electricity support payment regime (Ökostromförderung).

The volume of green gas available will continue to be limited in the future. That is why we welcome the ban on domestic gas boilers in new buildings which has been laid down in Vienna’s building regulations (Wiener Bauordnung). Green gas should only be used in the domestic sector when there are no alternatives. For example, in the case of listed buildings.

Our feasibility study for a decarbonised Vienna highlights that we will continue to need high-efficiency CHP plants and large-scale local gas boilers to cover peak demand during cold winters. That is why, from the point of view of Wien Energie, regulations are needed to ensure that sufficient volumes of green gas are available for these critical facilities.

Heat can be provided by various means in the domestic sector. In heavily-populated urban areas, district heating and gas are the primary sources of energy relied upon. Commercial inefficiency results from the fact that the district heating and gas infrastructure are installed parallel to each other. The energy plans contained in Vienna’s building regulations mean that this inefficiency can be avoided in future.

Further information

Your contact person

Tobias Rieder
Tobias Rieder

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