Director National Energy Authority Iceland
RENEWABLE GAS FOR SWITZERLAND
Switzerland has set itself ambitious goals with the 2050 Energy Strategy and the ratification of the Paris Climate Agreement. By 2050, Switzerland wants to focus largely on renewable energies and, in the long run, avoid carbon emissions altogether.
VERSATILE ENERGY SOURCE
As a versatile source of energy, renewable gas makes an important contribution towards achieving these goals:
- Heating private households, showering and cooking with renewable gas instead of oil or natural gas in a climate-friendly way.
- Many industrial companies need gas to generate process heat – renewable gas provides them with a CO2-neutral fuel.
- Vehicles powered by renewable gas improve the climate footprint of transport. Renewable gas is a promising alternative, especially in heavy transport, where electric vehicles have limited potential.
- Combined heat and power (CHP) plants generate both electricity and heat from renewable gas. This makes Switzerland less dependent in the winter on imported electricity, which often has a large carbon footprint.
IMPORTS COMPLEMENT DOMESTIC PRODUCTION
By 2030, the Swiss gas industry intends to use 30 per cent renewable gas in its heat supply. To achieve this, synthetic renewable gas from power-to-gas plants is required in addition to more biogas from green waste, agriculture or sewage sludge. Imports are an important addition to domestic production. What has always been the case with fossil energy sources will also become increasingly necessary with renewable energies: trading and transport over longer distances. Just as our natural gas today comes from the EU, Russia and Norway, in the future we will be importing renewable gas – for example from Iceland.
MAKING BETTER USE OF RENEWABLE ELECTRICITY IN ICELAND
Iceland has the ideal conditions for power-to-gas: With its water and geothermal power plants, the country can at times generate far more electricity than it consumes. At night, when the demand for electricity is low, and during the summer months when the snow melts and a lot of rain falls, hydroelectric power stations frequently have to discharge water without actually producing any electricity. As a result, some 600 GWh of renewable electricity remain unused in Iceland each year.
According to estimates, only half the potential for hydropower and geothermal energy has been exploited, while wind power is still in its infancy. Iceland can therefore act as an important green power plant for Europe.
POWER-TO-GAS STORES SURPLUS ELECTRICITY IN ICELAND
The problem: As an island without connection to international electricity grids, Iceland cannot export its surplus electricity. A plan for an underwater power cable between Iceland and Scotland exists, but only on paper. The possibility of converting gas makes it possible to store Iceland’s excess energy and transport it over long distances.
RENEWABLE FUEL FOR ICELAND
Since Iceland wants to do away with fossil fuels in the future, it will also be able to use the renewable gas itself. Iceland’s transport sector today is dependent on imports of petrol and diesel. Renewable fuel, produced from domestic electricity surpluses, is an important element of Iceland’s fully carbon-neutral and independent energy system. As the domestic market is small, the country depends on partnerships for the construction of power-to-gas plants.