Defining low-carbon gas and renewable gas in the European Union
The European Union aims to scale up low-carbon gas and renewable gas to decarbonize the gas sector. However, low-carbon and renewable gas are not clearly defined. A lack of clear definitions can bring the risks of supporting gases that lead to high greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions.
This briefing summarizes the findings from a recent paper which provides recommendations for defining renewable gas and low-carbon gas based on life-cycle GHG emissions factors. Based on these definitions, this paper recommends the following be considered by EU policy makers when crafting policy support for low-carbon gas and renewable gas.
- Require low-carbon gas and renewable gas to meet a GHG reduction requirement based on their life-cycle GHG emissions, by amending Article 2 of the proposed gas Directive.
- Define low-carbon gas and renewable gas as those meeting an 80% life-cycle GHG reduction threshold with a specific comparator, by amending Article 2 of the proposed gas Directive.
- Set thresholds for the key factors that impact a gas’s life-cycle GHG emissions to ensure that the gas actually meets the GHG reduction requirement, by amending Article 2 of the proposed gas Directive or by adding an Annex to the proposed gas Directive.
- Any hydrogen produced from fossil fuels cannot be considered zero-GHG and can only be defined as low-carbon gas under exceptional circumstances.
- Biogas should only be considered low-GHG if produced from wastes and residues.
- Biogas produced from silage maize and stemwood cannot be considered low-GHG.
- Renewable fuels of non-biological origin (RFNBOs), including electrolysis hydrogen, should only be considered low-GHG if made almost entirely from additional renewable electricity in its total production process.