Energy of the future: Sustainable gas providers you should know
Eco-gas: Sustainable energy for the future?
The use of sustainable gas is considered an environmentally friendly alternative to traditionally produced natural gas. Consumers are also becoming increasingly aware of the importance of environmentally and climate-friendly energy generation. For this reason, there are more and more suppliers of sustainable gas on the market. However, the supply they offer is produced in different ways. Some mix fossil natural gas with biogas, others offset natural gas in a climate-neutral way and sell so-called eco-gas, in which the gas supplier acquires emission certificates from independent control bodies. The most climate-friendly option is providers that offer 100 % biogas.
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Sustainable gas defined
The term sustainable gas is used to describe all gaseous energy sources that do not release more CO2 during combustion than was previously extracted from the atmosphere. Gas consumed in this way is thus considered climate neutral. To achieve this, there are various technological processes that help to reduce CO2 emissions when using the sustainable gas. They are stipulated in the compendium of the German Association of Energy and Water Industries (Bundesverband der Energie- und Wasserwirtschaft e. V.). This includes the use of biogas, the use of synthetic gas and gas generated from renewable electricity, also known as "power-to-gas", as well as the capture of CO2 and storage in geological deposits or the material use of the captured carbon. The advantage of using sustainable gas is that it often uses existing storage facilities, networks and application technologies, while at the same time promoting the decarbonisation necessary to combat climate change. Thus, they have the potential to gradually replace fossil natural gas.
Costs and installation
The costs of sustainable gas are still higher than for the production and extraction of conventional gas. The reason for this lies in the production costs for sustainably produced gas, which are much higher than import costs for fossil natural gas. However, not every biogas tariff is automatically more expensive than that for traditional natural gas. Therefore, it is possible to save costs if you switch from the basic natural gas supply to a favourable tariff for biogas. Furthermore, the development of fossil fuel prices is expected to show a significant upward trend in the coming years and decades. The CO2 tax, which has been in force since 2021 and is to be increased annually until 2025, also has a price-increasing effect on fossil natural gas. The installation or switch from classic to sustainable gas is relatively uncomplicated in many cases, as the same grids and storage facilities are often used for both. However, the existing pipelines are only partially suitable for hydrogen-derived gas, as there are other requirements for pressure regulation and materials. For newly built properties, the connection is made in the same way as for conventional gas. This means that the homeowner is responsible for the area from the main shut-off device, while the network operator is responsible for the supply line, house connection line, gas meter and main shut-off device.
List of sustainable gas suppliers in Germany
Due to the growing demand, there are more and more operators who include sustainable natural gas in their portfolio or offer exclusively sustainable gas. The best-known providers include Polarstern, Bürgerwerke, Naturstrom, Enspire, Green Planet Energy as well as EWS Schönau, Bienenwärme, Prokon and Rhöngas. They all either offer 100 % biogas or at least bear the "Green Gas" seal of the environmental associations, which is considered the strictest label for sustainable gas in Germany. In addition, there are numerous gas suppliers who sell both fossil gas and sustainable natural gas. Producers who belong to this group include Vattenfall, Montana, Lichtblick, Eprimo, Stadtenergie, E.On, Goldgas, Mainova, NEW Energie and the municipal utilities, which also provide the basic supply in each city.
Advantages and disadvantages of green LPG
Green liquified petroleum gas (LPG), like any other energy source, has both advantages and disadvantages. Biogas has the advantage of promoting the circular economy in addition to decarbonization, since it is possible to generate energy from agricultural waste. It also offers more energy independence. However, the waste produces stronger odours, and it is also requires using arable land for the cultivation of the necessary energy crops. Synthetic gases use surplus energy and store it, which makes them a sensible alternative to shutting down power plants when grid utilisation is high. Furthermore, methanation enables the binding of CO2 from industrial processes. They can also be produced without the need for fossil fuels for industrial use. However, the processes are cost-intensive and are accompanied by efficiency losses during conversion. The surplus renewable electricity alone is also not expected to result in very high utilisation of the power-to-gas plants.