Sustainability of the gas system
Enviromental Expenses (%)
In the coming years there will be a significant increase in the global gas demand, driven by the Americas and by China, where an increase in energy requirements will be accompanied by the growing role of renewable energy, more efficient technology and the gradual transition from other fossil sources to natural gas. The main factors fuelling the global energy demand, according to the future scenarios developed by the International Energy Agency (IEA), are the economic growth and the increasing populations of emerging countries. Natural gas will be a protagonist in the evolution of the energy mix, taking on different roles in different geographical areas.
Gas will continue to play a central role in the European decarbonisation, in line with the EU objectives already or to be defined (2020 Climate & Energy Package and Clean Energy Package) specifically making an important contribution to the transport and thermoelectric sectors, while coal gradually being phased out of production and increasing intermittent renewable sources. The use of the latter, which is hardly foreseeable, will require greater support from natural gas, a source which, by definition, can be programmed.
Volumes in Italy remain essentially stable. European trends in demand, together with the decline in the domestic and coal production, will require the development of new import routes.
€ 5.7 Bn
of which € 850 million will be
allocated to the TEC Project,
in order to accelerate Snam's
In this context, Snam anticipates an acceleration of the investment plan (€5.7 billion in the five-year period 2018-2022), with a confirmed focus on replacement and maintenance activities in order to guarantee the maximum flexibility and efficiency of the existing infrastructure. Under the scope of the investment plan, €850 million will be allocated to the TEC Project (Tomorrow’s Energy Company), whose goal will be to accelerate the Snam’s innovative capacity and its assets to take advantage of the opportunities offered by the development of the energy system. The TEC Project will focus, in particular, on four areas: greater operational efficiency, reduction of methane emissions (-25% by 2025); energy transition; innovation and the strengthening of core competencies.
Natural gas can contribute to the goal of guaranteeing a progressive decarbonisation together with other non-programmable renewable sources such as wind energy and solar energy. A greater use of natural gas means fighting climate change and lower emissions of sulphur dioxide, nitrogen oxides and particulates, with a crucial impact on the air pollution abatement measures in cities.
Additionally, the gas system could facilitate the options of decarbonisation and renewable consumption thanks to the introduction into the network of:
- renewable gases, such as biomethane, bio syngas and “green” hydrogen, obtained from anaerobic digestion and biomass gasification technologies, electrolysis of renewable electricity;
- low carbon natural gas and hydrogen, obtained from technologies that capture carbon and then store or reuse it (CCS/CCU).
Furthermore, other options which contribute to decarbonisation are made possible thanks to the spread of technologies based on the possibility of incorporating renewable energy from the environment (gas heating pumps) or using renewable gases very efficiently producing combined renewable electricity and heat and/or renewable hydrogen.
Innovation for business development
Innovation and exploitation of technological assets are important tools in the Company’s strategy. During 2018, various research and development activities launched in previous years were either continued or completed. At the same time, some new projects were launched with a potential impact on various areas of corporate operations.
The development of innovative technologies and methods for metering and monitoring natural gas and the related impact in the following areas:
- Alternative instruments: the gradual introduction into the transport network of instruments for measuring the quality of gases as an alternative to gas chromatography, the installation of quality analysers and automation and remote reading, the adaptation of the parameters of the quality of the gas meters installed in the network
- Forecasting demand: new gas demand forecasting based on the use of machine learning methodology
- Estimating natural gas emissions: under the scope of collaboration with the European research agency GERG (Groupe Européen de Recherches Gazières, www.gerg.eu), the evaluation of two methods for estimating international natural gas emissions and research into the potential impacts, on the entire gas chain, of the chemical components present in traces of biomethane in order to create the conditions for safe development.
Governance and monitoring of the network and plants
Installation of innovative systems for controlling and monitoring the network and plants in the following areas:
- Remote control: the development of the Smart Tel project designed to analyse the requirements of acquisition processes and the management of network control and operating data,
- Security: the installation of phonometric type systems for detecting any accidental system leaks, initiatives for fire safety, the replacement of security management systems at facilities and the installation of new electronic systems with SIL certification (Safety Integrity Level),
- Monitoring of compression units: the creation of an acquisition and display system for the main compression unit operating and monitoring data,
- Electro compressors: a preliminary feasibility study into the introduction of electro compressors at storage sites,
- Cogeneration: the installation of a trigeneration plant at the gas compression stations of Gallese and Istrana.
Integrity of infrastructures
Creation of experimental projects and the development of collaboration aimed at guaranteeing the physical integrity of infrastructures in the following areas:
- Collaboration with EPRG: collaboration with the EPRG (European Pipeline Research Group, www.eprg.net), an association that carries out research into issues concerning pipelines which Snam is a member of
- Electrical protection: innovation project for the electrical protection system, aimed at testing innovative operating solutions and equipment
- Geochemical and micro-seismic monitoring: the creation and installation of geochemical and micro-seismic monitoring prototypes in the area of storage.
Maintenance and monitoring of networks
The launch of experimental projects to optimise and strengthen maintenance and monitoring activities for transportation networks in the following areas:
- Revision of maintenance processes: the implementation of the “Gas Transportation Network Asset Maintenance System”, which is aimed specifically at completely overhauling work processes and regulations related to the transportation network, compression stations, metering and remote control systems.
- Experimentation with leak detection: the trialling of a system aimed at identifying and locating gas leaks along the transport network, based on the analysis of the pressure waves and the detection of possible disruptions
- Experimentation with monitoring overflight aircraft: the evaluation of currently available satellite detection technologies and participation in experimental activities, conducted by ENAV and ENAC, into the development of flight infrastructure for drones in BVLOS mode (Beyond Visual Line of Sight).
The creation of dedicated working groups for taking an in-depth look at issues related to the development of new businesses, with special reference to:
- Working group for the innovative use of existing infrastructure: a working group dedicated to sharing information and experience on the issue of the use of infrastructure in relation to its capacity to transport (and possibly store) gases other than natural gas, including hydrogen.