MOSCOW, May 18 (Reuters) - Russian gas giant Gazprom GAZP.MM expects demand for natural gas to grow in the coming decades and for it to play a bigger role in energy consumption than renewable sources and hydrogen, a company official said on Tuesday.
The forecasts runs counter to a global trend for an energy transition from fossil fuels to the use of environment-friendly renewable sources of energy, such as solar and wind power, in order to slow climate change.
Gazprom Deputy Chief Executive Oleg Aksyutin told an online briefing the company was still considering a carbon neutrality scenario as part of its 2050 low-carbon development strategy. It plans to complete work on the strategy by May 2022.
The United Nations has urged deep cuts in methane emissions, as well as in carbon dioxide, as efforts intensify to stave off catastrophic global warming.
However, Russian officials and senior managers have repeatedly portrayed natural gas, which emits less carbon than coal as a climate-friendly energy source, even though it consists primarily of methane and is not carbon-free.
Aksyutin said natural gas was projected to account for almost 40% of additional energy demand in 2020-2040 compared to 34% from renewables.
The presentation prepared by Gazprom showed combined gas demand in Europe and China, Gazprom's main supply markets, is expected to rise to almost 1 trillion cubic metres per year by 2030 from 865 billion cubic metres in 2020.
"Our strategy is boosting gas supplies," the manager said.
He also said there was no global market for hydrogen, seen as a cleaner fuel than methane, and that its qualities have yet to be fully studied.
"We still have to do our homework," he said, adding that Gazprom had no firm investment plans so far for hydrogen development.
(Reporting by Vladimir Soldatkin and Oksana Kobzeva; editing by Barbara Lewis)
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