How relevant is the natural gas distribution grid in comparison to the electricity distribution grid and heating grids?
Current studies, investigating the developments of the energy system in light of the energy transition, predict a significant decline in natural gas demand until 2050. New competitors to the natural gas suppliers are entering the market to equip industry and buildings with electricity and heat, leading to challenges for the natural gas sector and especially for the distribution grid operators to remain competitive. To investigate these new challenges an interconnected approach reflecting the competition between natural gas, heat and electricity is necessary. Hence, this study focuses on sector coupling on a distribution grid level for the building sector by a combined analysis of a grid-based electricity, heat and natural gas supply. We aim at contributing to the following research question: How relevant is the natural gas distribution grid in comparison to the electricity distribution grid and heating grids in the building sector in 2050? To answer the question a techno-economic comparison of the three different grids is outlined, providing the general insight that the natural gas distribution grid could become the least relevant grid for supplying heat in buildings in 2050, but further analyses that are more detailed are necessary.