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The Dutch industry plays an important role in our economy and society. At the same time, it is responsible for about forty percent of greenhouse gas emissions in our country. The Climate Agreement therefore states that industries have to become more sustainable. This is Mission C: a climate-neutral and circular industry by 2050. This can only be achieved with an industrial system that consists of new and revamped value chains, where energy management is free of CO2, and carbon is used in a circular manner.

This Innovation Program primarily focuses on the first part of this paragraph: the systematic transformation of our industry. The Innovation Program provides an overview of the specific innovations that can contribute to this mission and highlights the immediate challenges that need to be addressed. TKI Energie en Industrie support entrepreneurs and scientists in developing innovations that contribute to these challenges.

Transforming the industry

Our industry is undergoing a fundamental transformation to become climate-neutral and circular. We are transitioning from a demand-driven energy system, built around a cheap and reliable gas supply and import of other fossil fuels, to a stronger supply-driven system that utilizes variable renewable energy and imports other energy carriers. The value chains are shifting from primarily relying on raw materials to embracing material reuse and transitioning from fossil-based to bio-based resources.

The new technologies and processes required for this transformation are outlined in Innovation Program 6 and Innovation Program 7. Many of these innovations cannot be applied at scale without considering the implications for the larger system. To successfully establish a sustainable industry, it is essential to take a holistic view of the entire chain or system within which these technologies must perform. It is not automatic that the Netherlands will remain a leader in the industries in which it has historically excelled. Some industries will leave and disappear, while others will find their way to our country.

This Innovation Program maps out the innovation challenges from the perspective of investments and dependencies at the chain and system level. It contributes to achieving the goals set out in Innovation Programs 6 and 7: a 55 percent reduction in CO2 emissions (19.4 megatons reduction within the industry) and a 50 percent reduction in primary resource use by 2030.

System innovations for a sustainable industry

The challenge of this Innovation program lies in finding the solutions for bottlenecks within industrial chains and systems. These can be categorized into four subprograms:

Energy and raw materials in a new energy system. The transition into a CO2-neutral and circular industry leads to new chains and dependencies. The innovations set out in Innovation program’s 6 and 7 will have to be fitted into a specific location. With this, smart choices are important to use synergies and limit dependencies, - for instance, when it comes to re-using heat and rest- and waste flows.

Infrastructure and storage. Infrastructure is the pivot in connecting energy carriers’ demand and supply, and is therefore essential for a sustainable industry. The industry’s transition to green energy and hydrogen leads to new energy balances and infrastructural needs. Also, the mondial shift to trade in renewable energy carriers and raw materials is changing what the industry needs. Building up great variable electricity generation, for instance, creates a need for conversion and storage of energy and demand management. These will have to be stored at different levels, ranging from companies to the international system.

Transport and CO2 storage. Carbon Capture and Storage (CCS) will play a temporary, but very important role when it comes to emission reduction in our future. To make sure potential is benefitted from properly, great-scaled infrastructure is needed, as well as a clear and supported perspective on preferred role. This way, CSS can on short turn be used for hardly replaceable fossil fuel usage, and later on, for negative emissions. How these negative emissions can be accomplished best, by for example combining bio-energy and CSS or forming direct air capture, is an important yet unanswered question.

Digitization for the new industry. Digital means play a key role in the transformation of the industry. Integration of digital means with the physical world, as in digital twins, helps to understand the industrial system better, and take data-driven decisions about these transformations. Optimizing processes, in for example intercourse with volatile energy prices, is crucial. Finally, digital means play an important role in the traceability of products - exactly how green is a certain hydrogen, for example?

Getting to work with system innovations

Innovations surrounding these topics will help the Netherlands on its way to a climate neutral and circular economy. The Innovation program offers help to businesses, knowledge institutions and others that wish to invest in this. Until now, there have been more than 180 projects set up surrounding sustainable industries.

Do you have any questions about the Innovation program, or are you seeking help, partners or funds to help you realize these innovations? Contact one of our program managers directly:

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