This year has posed a major challenge for all of us. From one moment to the next, the Covid-19 pandemic threw the world into an emergency situation. Following the latest reports on the development and approval of the first vaccines, however, we are now looking ahead to 2021 with newly increased optimism.
When we informed you about the immediate measures taken at WINGAS at the beginning of the pandemic last March, we could not predict how long this issue would accompany us. Since then, we have had to establish new paths of communication – both in our everyday work and in our cooperation with our business partners.
My colleagues and I want to take this opportunity to thank you for the trust you have placed in us, even though face-to-face contact mostly has not been possible this year. Despite our many shared challenges, we have succeeded in continuing our strong business relationship. In these times, I am especially happy about our very constructive and, in many cases, long-term cooperation with you, as well as about being able to welcome new customers to WINGAS!
A stable energy supply and the companies that are active in this industry, along with their employees, are cornerstones of the economy and the life of our society. What natural gas has contributed to supply security through the months of the pandemic thus far cannot be fully achieved through wind, hydroelectric and solar energy for the foreseeable future. Natural gas is responsible for a large share of Europe’s electricity production, and in times of crisis, electricity is essential for maintaining the public infrastructure, especially in hospitals and communications.
Now lying before us is the huge task of overcoming, as quickly as possible, the crisis induced by the global pandemic. But climate protection efforts must not come to a halt. In continuing them, decarbonisation and the use of natural gas can go hand in hand.
For in Europe, the ongoing development of natural gas as a resource and the availability of alternative, low-carbon gases are becoming increasingly important. Gas-fired power plants and the natural gas infrastructure must be further expanded to enable the transition to a decarbonised future.
Natural gas can also play an important role in the context of the European hydrogen strategy, a fundamental component of the European Union’s ‘Green Deal’.
Hydrogen is intended to support the decarbonisation of industry, transport, electricity production and buildings across Europe. In many countries, however, only a small share of the fast-growing demand can be met through domestic production capacity using renewable energies (‘green hydrogen’). A possible solution lies in a technology-open approach: hydrogen obtained from natural gas (‘turquoise hydrogen’) through methane splitting (methane pyrolysis). Many experts see in this process – in addition to generation from renewable energies – the potential for a key technology.
It is good news that natural gas remains an important energy source worldwide, and not only in times of crisis. This is confirmed by the World Energy Outlook (WEO) 2020 recently published by the International Energy Agency (IEA). The IEA anticipates only a slight drop in demand for natural gas worldwide for 2020, in contrast to considerably more drastic declines in demand for other energy sources, such as oil or coal. And a fast recovery is expected for natural gas as early as 2021. Significant growth is prognosticated in the capacity of gas-fired power plants in the European Union by 2030. Even for the coming decades, the WEO gives cause for optimism – worldwide demand for natural gas will continue to rise.
Natural gas clearly is and will remain a relevant resource, whether as a cornerstone of supply security or as fuel for the energy transformation. It is vital that decision-makers take a technology-open approach so that our climate-friendly, affordable and technologically versatile energy source can continue to make an important contribution to achieving climate goals and securing the energy supply in Europe and the world in the future.
Christmas is just around the corner – a fitting occasion for us to pause as an extraordinary year comes to a close. I wish you calm and restful holidays, and good health as you begin the new year!
With my colleagues, I look forward to our continued cooperation with you in 2021.