The relevance of natural gas in environmental management


If 2018 was a relaunch year. A year in which Naturgy defined the bases of its transformation to become an international benchmark, then 2019 will be the moment to consolidate a route map for 2022 and a clear action plan for creation of value based on transparency and simplicity, efficiency and cost reduction, discipline of both the capital and the shareholder. Commitment to renewables is an important part of this approach. Naturgy is set to invest €1 billion domestically to this end in 2020.

Naturgy’s new 2018-2022 Strategic Plan sees the energy transition as an opportunity and makes a clear bet on the growth of renewable energies, electrification, energy efficiency, and the role of natural gas as a fundamental vehicle toward a low-carbon economy. In this context, the company’s environmental management is built on three pillars.

  • Climate and Air: Contributing to the energy transition, the mitigation of climate change, and the improvement of air quality.

  • Circular Economy: Boosting eco-efficiency in the use of resources to reduce negative environmental impacts.

  • Natural Capital and biodiversity: Promoting conservation of the natural and cultural heritage.

With regards to climate and air, we strive to reduce the company’s direct GHG emissions, which dropped by 11 percent in 2018 compared with the previous year thanks to greater renewable generation.

In addition to renewable energies, which we are promoting with new projects in order to triple our installed capacity by 2022, we believe that natural gas is a fundamental element in the energy transition that the market currently faces. Firstly, because it replaces other more carbon-intensive and pollutant fuels, mitigating climate change and improving air quality. In 2018, the natural gas traded and distributed by Naturgy substituted fuels with higher emissions (coal and petroleum products), preventing the emission of 117 million tons of CO2 and other airborne pollutants such as SO2, particles, and NOx.

Natural gas also provides technologically mature solutions in the transportation sector, constituting a real alternative that not only improves air quality but also cost savings for users. Additionally, gas is an industrial competitiveness lever through high-performance cogeneration and trigeneration.

Circular economy is Naturgy’s second environmental strategic pillar. Promoting eco-efficient use of resources, energy, and water is basic in order to minimize pollution, waste, and negative environmental impact on people and ecosystems.

To this end, we strive to improve energy efficiency both in our clients’ homes and in our own facilities. Similarly, we improve eco-efficiency in our processes to save natural resources, reduce pollution, and minimize and revalue residues. A paradigmatic example is the use of urban wastewaters in four combined cycle facilities in Mexico and Spain, located in areas of high hydric stress, preventing freshwater consumption. The use of recycled water in these facilities has helped save 20.6 hm3 over the past three years,the equivalent of 8,228 Olympic swimming pools.

Another key innovation line through which the company promotes circular economy is renewable gas. This gas is CO2 neutral, as it is generated from either energy surplus produced at renewable facilities at times of low demand or from organic waste. It is similar to conventional natural gas, and therefore can be injected into the existing gas structure and be used by consumers at any point of connection.

Gas production from organic waste is a solution already implemented in Europe, with over 18,000 biogas plants. Renewable gas developed from organic waste would be an ideal solution for Spain which, according to SEDIGAS, could cover 64 percent of the current demand for domestic/commercial gas. Spain is the largest hog producer in Europe with over 28 million cattle and generating more than 50 million tons of manure a year.

Transforming this waste into renewable gas would prevent the environmental impact produced by applying the manure directly onto the ground, such as water pollution, bad odors, and methane emissions from the bacterial degradation of the organic matter and can even be a carbon sink. Furthermore, biogas also has a very positive impact on economic activity in rural areas.

Hence, the company has several initiatives underway to generate biomethane from organic waste, like the La Farfana wastewater plant (Chile), which is the largest in Latin America, Arazuri pilot plants (Navarra), or Bens (Galicia).

Naturgy has also committed to the preservation of the natural capital, biodiversity, and the cultural heritage in the areas surrounding its facilities, with special attention given to protected areas and species. To this end, we conduct previous environmental and archeological studies from the design phase, with the purpose of preventing and reducing the negative impacts of the complete life cycle. Similarly, we established measures to mitigate or compensate the facilities’ impact on the natural surroundings and cultural heritage, especially those in high influence or protected areas.

In 2018, we developed more than 300 biodiversity initiatives worldwide, including studios that track the environmental and ecological state of the plants’ surroundings, which confirm that the impact on the environment is admissible.

Environmental management based on these three strategic pillars has enabled Naturgy to continue to lead the main sustainability indexes like the Dow Jones Sustainability Index, where we ranked as global leaders in the Gas Utilities sector in 2018 for the second year in a row. Moreover, Naturgy has been recognized by the CDP, the most prestigious weather index, obtaining the highest qualification (A List), and being the only Spanish energy company and one of five utilities worldwide to achieve this of the 6,937 companies that have participated.

For more information, check Energía16

See also: Naturgy reports a consolidated loss of €2.8 billion in 2018 FY

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