The role of Gas DSOs and distribution networks in the context of the energy transition

Energy transition and decarbonisation targets are affecting both electricity and gas sectors. The EU is moving towards decarbonising its economy by 2050 in the order of 80-95%, with intermediate reduction targets of 40% and 60% by 2030 and 2040 respectively. These decarbonisation objectives are expected to be fulfilled in a large extent by energy efficiency and additional RES in the energy mix. While currently natural gas plays a key role in the EU’s energy consumption (22% of primary energy consumption), it is expected that its use will decline sharply towards 2030 and 2050 milestones.

Therefore, decarbonisation of gas is crucial in order for gas to continue being an important energy source also in the longer term. According to various analyses and studies the use of new gases (e.g. biogas, biomethane, hydrogen) has the potential to increasingly contribute in the energy mix, with a large share of these gas volumes being injected to the distribution grid. This entails the deployment of new technologies and related investments, as well as changes in the regulatory framework.

The proposed study will examine the role of gas Distribution System Operators (DSOs) and distribution networks under the new environment, shaped by the penetration of biogas, hydrogen and power to gas technologies, and will seek to identify possible barriers and gaps in relation to the existing regulatory framework. The study should evaluate the existing EU framework for the internal gas market[1] and identify how it needs to evolve in order to account for expected changes in gas distribution networks associated with energy transition and sector coupling.

[1] The main framework for gas distribution at EU level is provided by the Directive 2009/73/EC ‘concerning common rules for the internal market in natural gas and repealing Directive 2003/55/EC’.


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“The study is carried out for the European Commission and expresses the opinion of the organisation having undertaken them. To this end, it does not reflect the views of the European Commission, TSOs, project promoters and other stakeholders involved. The European Commission does not guarantee the accuracy of the information given in the study, nor does it accept responsibility for any use made thereof.”