Energy transition in the Industry

Hub: Towards Industry with Negative Emissions

Scientific experts are working together with industry partners and stakeholders to support the radical transformation of industry needed for society to meet the Paris climate ambitions. The key question is: how will new technologies and societal choices shape the future of industry?

How will new technologies and societal choices shape the future of energy systems and industry?

Impact-oriented research hub

Within Utrecht University’s strategic theme Pathways to Sustainability an interdisciplinary team of researchers has developed the impact-oriented research hub ‘Deep Decarbonisation: Towards Industry with Negative Emissions’. In this hub, a group of researchers from a wide range of academic disciplines works together with an equally broad group from industry, government and civil society. The aim is to generate new concepts to support the radical transformation of industry needed for our society to meet the ambitions of the Paris Climate Agreement.

Developing a shared understanding of industrial transformation that actively supports the energy transition

Supporting the energy transition

In the hub, we aim to collaboratively develop a shared understanding of industrial transformation that actively supports the energy transition in industry. The hub develops and explores pathways to sustainability and engages with industries in the Netherlands. More information about the energy transition in general can be found in the dossier Energy Transition.

Challenges of industrial energy transitions

The industry sector plays an important role in the proposed Dutch Climate Agreement drafted to reach the global Paris Climate Agreement. For 2050 the Dutch proposal envisages a "thriving, circular and globally leading industry in the Netherlands, where greenhouse gas emissions are almost zero, where biomass, CO2, waste streams and waste gases are used to create feedstocks for the chemical and other sectors, or fuel for aviation or shipping.” Regarding Carbon Capture and Store (CCS) it states that “CCS is required as a temporary solution to achieve the targets for 2030.”

However, there is a gap between this ambition and the actual governance structures, legal frameworks, financial instruments, availability of infrastructures and technologies, and coherent implementation pathways, among others.

Pathways to Sustainability conference discussion
Interactive session at the Pathways to Sustainability conference 2018 organised by the hub.

Key question

The research questions that the hub takes on relate to the technical and non-technical challenges of industry decarbonisation. They focus on the question how the transformation that is needed to reach the above-mentioned ambitions of the industry sector can be achieved. The key research question is: How can industry transform, and how can companies, government and other stakeholders act on their shared responsibility so that the Netherlands meets the Paris Climate Agreement?

To answer this overarching question, the hub pursues three research lines that each have their own specific research questions:

Transdisciplinary approaches

The hub brings together a broad spectrum of disciplinary expertise with system-analytical and transformational knowledge of researchers at Utrecht University. The researchers work together closely with stakeholders from industry, government and civil society in a transdisciplinary research process. Researchers’ academic disciplines span renewable energy systems, physics, chemistry, geology, climate policy, innovation studies, governance, economics and law.

The hub explores novel ways to share, validate, and co-create knowledge using transdisciplinary approaches. It intends to look across sectoral and often ‘siloed’ energy technologies within specific industrial settings in the Netherlands. The results will also be relevant for industry transitions globally.

In December 2020 was the official launch of the Sustainable Industry Lab, a direct initiative of researchers in this hub. The Sustainable Industry Lab is a partnership in which academia, government, industry, societal parties and environmental organizations work together to accelerate the sustainable transition of industry. We bring together existing research and knowledge. We want to disseminate this knowledge in an independent way in order to improve the quality of the political and societal debate. The issue is very complex and currently polarised with one-liners. We want to bring an objective view to this debate so that important choices can be made at the right moments.

Hub leader

Hub researchers