Although the natural gas and renewable energy sources are two significant elements of the Baltic primary energy mix both today and in foreseeable future, the competitive edge of their usage often prevails over possibilities of mutually beneficial coexistence. Universally both forms of energy are often described as key elements of a transition to a cleaner and more secure energy future (low-carbon economy), but regionally much of the current discourse considers each in isolation or concentrates on the competitive impacts of one on the other. The paper outlines several potential avenues and further research trends of synergies between the natural gas, a proven fast-reacting fossil fuel, and RES as seen from viewpoints of the Baltic energy sector sustainability and security of energy supply.
The European Union (hereafter – the EU) takes a strong position in the global fight against climate changes by setting ambitious targets on reduction of greenhouse gas (hereafter – GHG) emissions. A binding target is to reduce those emissions by at least 40 % below 1990 levels till 2030, which would help make Europe the first climate neutral continent by the mid-21st century. Consequently, the expected 2050 emission reduction target for the EU is 80 %–90 % below 1990 levels. The EU’s new economy decarbonisation framework – The European Green Deal – outlines and summarises Europe’s ambition to become a world’s first climate neutral continent by 2050. This supposedly can be achieved by turning climate and environmental challenges into opportunities across all policy areas and making the energy transition just and inclusive for all.
The transport, and particularly road transport, is one of the most significant fossil fuel dependent segments of national economies across the EU. Oil dependency of all segments of the transport sector makes it the single biggest source of GHG emissions in the united Europe as well. Road transport is responsible for about 73 % of total transport GHG emissions, as Europe’s more than 308.3 million road vehicles are over 90 % reliant on conventional types of oil-based fuels (diesel, gasoline etc.).
However, there is a wide range of low-emission alternative fuels for all kinds of transport that can reduce overall oil dependence of the EU’s transport sector and significantly lower GHG in road transport. Among these alternatives a tandem of the natural gas and biomethane could be named as one of the most promising for short and mid-term transport decarbonisation solutions both in the EU and Latvia.