Engie CEO Sees Higher Energy Bills if Europe Squeezes Out Gas

European consumers face higher energy bills if governments squeeze out natural gas and rely only on electricity to reach their carbon neutrality goals by 2050, Engie SA Chief Executive Officer Catherine MacGregor said.

“In Europe and in the U.K., if decarbonization was to be made only through electrification, our own internal estimate is that it would generate additional costs of around 30% by 2050,” MacGregor told analysts Tuesday. “This would translate to around 150 euros ($183) per year on a household energy bill for the next 30 years.”

The CEO of the French gas and power utility, who presented a plan to step up investment in renewables on Tuesday, defended the role of the fuel in ensuring security of supply as governments across Europe are taking measures to curb emissions in electricity generation, transport, heating and manufacturing.

The planned closure of coal-fired power stations and aging nuclear plants will remove 70 gigawatts of capacity across Europe by 2030 while power demand continues to grow, MacGregor said.

“This is expected to lead to a greater need for dispatchable gas capacity, and in this context, our gas fleet is very well positioned to support this system, which will face a tighter demand-supply balance,” she said. Engie is ready to build new gas plants in Belgium to replace its nuclear stations if an appropriate market design is set up, she said.

The company is also stepping up investments in biomethane and green hydrogen production, the CEO said. It plans to adapt its pipeline network to accommodate these renewable fuels, which could cover almost all of France’s gas demand by 2050, she said.

“While we welcome electrification as an important enabler to reach net zero, a balanced energy mix is essential for affordability, flexibility and overall system resilience,” MacGregor said.

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