“We want the customers that have access to coal to have access to gas as well. The golden era of this commodity is ahead of us,” said Piotr Woźniak, President of PGNiG, during the COP24 climate conference in Katowice.
“Our aim is to ensure that by 2022 90% of households in Poland have access to natural gas, which is the cleanest fossil fuel. The environmental benefits of using gas as a fuel are undeniable. Natural gas is our chance for cleaner air,” said Piotr Woźniak during the debate on ‘Using natural gas to improve air quality’, organised by the PGNiG Group.
During the debate, Piotr Woźniak pointed out that the PGNiG Group undertakes numerous initiatives to improve air quality in Poland. First of all, the Group is implementing an ambitious programme to develop the gas distribution network. By 2020, the Group’s capex on the programme will amount to nearly PLN 8bn. The Group also offers grants of up to PLN 3,000 to finance replacement of old heating boilers with gas-fired ones.
Henryk Mucha, President of PGNiG Obrót Detaliczny, the Group’s retail trading arm, added: “Using natural gas is an effective tool to improve air quality. A good example here is our pilot scheme as part of which we offer grants to households wishing to replace their solid fuel-fired boilers with more environmentally-friendly gas-fired ones. The project is continuing, but owing to the change of heating sources we have already reduced dust emissions by about 50 tonnes and CO2 emissions by about 200 tonnes.”
Participants of the debate also discussed the use of natural gas in transport, putting particular emphasis on public transport in cities. Both Andrzej Kowol, President of the Management Board of municipal transport company Przedsiębiorstwo Komunikacji Miejskiej in Tychy, and Marek Ustrobiński, Deputy Mayor of Rzeszów, stressed that running municipal transport vehicles on natural gas brings not only environmental but also economic benefits. The cost of driving 100 km in a bus fuelled with natural gas is currently 10% lower than in a bus running on diesel. In the coming years, savings could grow by a further 20% as a result of the planned lifting of excise duties on CNG and LNG used for propulsion purposes, which is awaiting approval by the European Commission.
“The problem we are currently facing is the limited number of LNG and CNG filling stations. However, a law has been adopted which provides for a rapid construction of 70 such stations,” said Marcin Szczudło, Vice President of PGNiG Obrót Detaliczny. “There are currently about 400 gas-fuelled buses running in Poland. By the end of next year, there will be 600 such buses, so we believe that the trend will be growing. Kielce and Warsaw are cases in point – this year these two cities decided to opt for CNG-fuelled buses. The larger the urban area, the greater the impact of transport on smog, and this is why we support green solutions in transport,” added Vice President Szczudło.
The debate on the use of natural gas to improve air quality was led by François-Régis Mouton, EU Affairs Director at the International Oil and Gas Producers Association (IOGP). Speeches were also delivered by, among others, Fatih Birol, Executive Director of the International Energy Agency (IEA), Maria Andrzejewska, Director of the UNEP/GRID-Warsaw Centre, and Marek Ustrobiński, Deputy Mayor of Rzeszów.
Reduction of methane emissions
During the COP24 climate summit in Katowice, the PGNiG Group also organised a panel discussion on reduction of methane emissions. During the debate devoted to natural gas from conventional and unconventional sources as a low-carbon fuel supporting the green economy, Piotr Woźniak stressed:
“PGNiG is implementing an ambitious coalbed methane recovery project with a view to using the methane as a source of energy. The project will not only contribute to improving the energy security of our country, but will also help reduce emissions of this greenhouse gas into the atmosphere, as well as improve the safety of miners.”
“Based on the most recent information it is clear that global carbon emissions have increased. The mining industry should take responsibility also for methane emissions from coal mines. All new projects in this sector should rely on state-of-the-art low emissions technologies, including technologies for carbon capture and storage,” added Raymond Pilcher, Chair of the Group of Experts on Coal Mine Methane.
Scot Foster, Director of the Sustainable Energy Department at the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe, pointed out:
“Natural gas can make important contributions to a sustainable future in the areas of mobility, power generation, improving urban air quality, and providing quality energy access in unserved areas. On the other hand, the energy industry must enhance its sustainability credentials significantly by addressing both methane losses and CO2 emissions. Placing a real price on emissions and trusting in markets would be key steps.”
The session moderated by Director Scot Foster was attended by experts from all over the world, including the US, Norway, China and Australia, representing business, international organisations and the academic communities.