A study by independent consultants Ecofys has highlighted the use of combined heat and power among other technologies as an effective way of reducing Europe’s gas imports and significantly cutting its carbon emissions.

The report has emerged in the same week that EU leaders gather in Brussels to endeavour to reach agreement on the bloc’s 2030 Climate and Energy Framework. The Director of the World Resource Institute Jennifer Morgan says the findings demonstrate a win-win for Europe, if adopted.

The study found that natural gas imports from countries such as Russia can be reduced by half and carbon dioxide emissions by 49% if it ramps up energy and efficiency improvements.

The measures, if adopted, would help climate and simultaneously boost energy security.

A 20% reduction in gas consumption from industry, equal to 5% of all natural gas presently consumed, could be gained by increasing combined heat and power generation, more efficient heating and better electric drive systems.

Director of World Resources Institute’s climate and energy program Jennifer Morgan
The report also highlights a potential 58% reduction in gas consumption from buildings by 2030, equal to 23% of all natural gas presently consumed by the EU, could be made through insulation, improved heating systems and more renewable energy input, the report said.

The 49% cut to carbon, compared to 1990 levels, goes “far beyond” projections in the EU’s, the report said. The framework, as it stands, calls for a 40% greenhouse gas reduction, a 30% energy efficiency improvement and a 27% renewable energy target.

The bloc’s energy security has been compromised as the Ukraine crisis brutally exposed the EU’s dependence on Russian gas. Finland, Latvia, Lithuania, Estonia, Slovakia and Bulgaria are fully dependent on imports from Russia.

The report rules out shale gas as a credible means of arresting the problem with factors such as production costs, environmental impact, size of reserves and inadequate technological development preventing the EU from having substantial shale gas production before 2030.

Director of World Resources Institute’s climate and energy program Jennifer Morgan said, “This analysis shows that the EU can cut natural gas imports in half without raising costs for consumers. This is a win-win approach for the EU, increasing its energy security and raising the bar for climate action.”