New steps in the decarbonisation challenge: which role for Gas in the Europe of the future?
The Gas market reform is in the core of the Green Deal with considerable effects on consumers and internal market policies. As representatives of key consumers on the energy market, we consider this topic of great importance for our members.
On 18 June we responded to the gas consultation, a Commission’s initiative whose aim is the revision of Directive 2009/73/EC, concerning common rules for the internal market in natural gas, and Regulation 715/2009 on conditions for access to the natural gas transmission networks.
As gaseous fuels will continue to play a role in 2030, we essentially pointed out that hydrogen and renewable gas can contribute to reaching the EU climate targets. Yet, some long-term perspective considerations should be taken into account to avoid designing policies that push new households to connect to the gas network: as the average lifetime of heating and cooling appliances is 15-20 years, consumers and property owners need to be able to make informed investment decisions that are future proof; furthermore, we think that a progressive transition towards more affordable and climate-neutral solutions is certainly needed, and it is important to think of gas as an alternative solution which can help citizens to alleviate the burden of decarbonisation. In this sense, the revision of the Gas Directive and Gas Regulation should promote the implementation of biogas and hydrogen in the gas infrastructure.
As regards consumer rights, we consider that these are still lagging in the gas markets compared to those in electricity ones, and that improvements are needed (e.g. stricter requirements for price regulation in gas, an alignment of consumer protection rights and the right to switch suppliers). Finally, the implementation of the right to switch should be managed among Distribution System Operators (DSO) and final consumers so as not to endanger the solidarity principle between co-owners in multi-apartment buildings and prevent meaningful investments by building owners for their tenants.