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News 8 November, 2023 Environmental sustainability Net-Zero Basque

Tapia champions decarbonisation as an “opportunity” for Basque companies

The Net Zero Basque Industrial SuperCluster has presented its results at the new Industry Decarbonisation Forum.
Net-Zero Basque Industrial SuperCluster (NZBIS) - Industry Decarbonisation Forum 2023

The Basque Government’s Minister for Economic Development, Sustainability and the Environment, Arantxa Tapia, stressed that the decarbonisation of industry “is not a threat, but rather an opportunity for us” and called for it to be driven in “a committed and realistic way”.  At the Barakaldo BEC, Tapa opened the first meeting of the new Industry Decarbonisation Forum, set up to consider the supply and demand of energy efficiency and decarbonisation solutions to drive partnership opportunities in this area.

The Net Zero Basque Industrial SuperCluster initiative has presented the results of two years of work at the BEC. The event is organised by the Energy Cluster, Aclima, AFV, Siderex, the Paper Cluster and the SPRI Group.

Net-Zero Basque is the initiative driven by the Basque Government and the SPRI Group, its Business Development Agency, with the support of the industrial clusters: it aspires to drive the reduction of emissions in Basque industry and foster new opportunities for Basque companies arising from the development of new technologies and innovative services.  The initiative is part of the World Economic Forum’s (WEF) Transitioning Industrial Clusters towards Net Zero programme.

Tapia pointed out that the Supercluster’s activity has focused during those two years on “identifying measures for the decarbonisation in those five sectors (pulp and paper, refinery, cement, steelmaking and casting, that cause 70% of the polluting emissions) with a focus on the technological measures and with special focus on the measures that require technological development”.

She added that the decarbonisation challenge is ambitious and global. “During the two years that the Supercluster has been up and running, our strategy has focused on outreach and our international positioning with key partners.  I would like to specially mention EPRI, the US research and development institute in the field of energy”.

The Minister announced Basque companies will have Innobideak Fast,  a new grant programme for decarbonisation solutions, in the coming year, as an example of the Basque Government’s commitment to decarbonisation. The plan, which will allow the scaling up of technological development towards the market, will have a budget of €7 million.

Hard to Zero

Along with Minister Tapia, representatives of the initiative’s partners – Petronor-Repsol (José Ignacio Zudaire) and Iberdrola (Asís Canales) – took part in the first part of the event to explain its role in the initiative driving their commitments to industrial decarbonisation, by means of the Basque Hydrogen Corridor and of the “Hard to Zero multisectoral initiative for the decarbonisation of industry in the case of Petronor, and of the electrification of industry as an industrial and technological development opportunity, in the case of Iberdrola.

Asís Canales pointed out that energy production has historically been the largest generator of emissions “and is now the fourth”. He urged citizens to understand “the need for installing wind farms and photovoltaic plants”.  He stressed that the areas of mobility and heating & air conditioning are also making progress in decarbonisation.  “Decarbonisation of consumption involves major investments and we need public grants”.

Zudaire pointed out that decarbonisation is also a matter of competitiveness and emphasised that Basque companies “are doing what they must”. In 1982, companies accounted for 66% of energy consumption and that figure has now been practically halved to 37%. “They are now asking for it to be zero by 2050”. “We have already replaced diesel by natural gas. And now they want us to do the same with hydrogen. And using the same private-public partnership formula”.

“Robust industrial ecosystem”

Cristina Oyón, the SPRI Director of Technology, Innovation and Sustainable, as the representative of the coordinator of the initiative and of the new Industry Decarbonisation Forum, went over the initiative and highlighted the progress made.  “We want to develop a robust and innovative industrial ecosystem”, based on four areas: energy efficiency, electrification, green hydrogen and CO2 storage.  The plenary session discussed the existing support mechanisms to drive decarbonisation, with a reference to the decarbonisation PERTE (Strategic Project for the Economic Recovery and Transformation), whose rules and regulations have been recently published.

The plenary session ended with the presentation of the intercluster work dynamics which has been set in motion with the first meeting of the Industry Decarbonisation Forum by the Energy Cluster (through its director José Ignacio Hormaeche), who has defined it as “the meeting place between the supply of technology solutions and business demand”. This was followed by the 4 parallel sessions when the roadmaps were presented for the decarbonisation of the cement sectors (presented by ACLIMA), steelmaking (presented by SIDEREX), casting (presented by AFV), and pulp and paper (presented by the Paper Cluster).

Furthermore, the meeting has had three group work dynamics on decarbonisation technologies and solutions in the Net-Zero Basque Roadmaps: “Energy Efficiency”, the “Heat Pump and Electrification” and “Oxycombution and Hydrogen”. During each of the parallel sessions, the Energy Cluster set out the technological challenges, along with an initial version of the value chain associated with each of the technologies.  That was rounded off by looking at different relevant cases studies for the presented technologies.  The parallel sessions have sought to identify ideas and proposals of collaborative technological development projects that the clusters can help to define and drive, and to confirm the business interest in embarking on demonstrator and pilot projects.

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