On behalf of the Federal Environment Ministry (BMU), Zukunft – Umwelt – Gesellschaft (ZUG) gGmbH has commenced work on creating a competence centre on climate change mitigation in energy intensive industries (Kompetenzzentrum für Klimaschutz in energieintensiven Industrien (KEI)). In close collaboration with research institutions, industrial enterprises and organisations at national, EU and international level, the KEI will develop technology-based, market-oriented solutions for use in decarbonising energy intensive industries – in the steel and cement sectors, for example.

The competence centre will be established as a new ZUG location in Cottbus in Eastern Germany. In collaboration with the Brandenburg University of Technology Cottbus-Senftenberg, the KEI will act as a think tank for climate change mitigation in industry, identify research needs, initiate research work, aid cluster development and identify funding opportunities. The kick-off meeting for the Competence Centre took place on 7 March 2019 in Cottbus and it will be operational during 2019.

Support programme for industrial decarbonisation

The KEI partnering with the Federal Environmental Agency (UBA) for expert advice, will be responsible for the implementation of the planned BMU funding programme on industrial decarbonisation. The funding programme will support projects from research and development to the widespread market introduction of innovative climate protection technologies. The corresponding funding directive is due to enter into force in 2020.

First cooperation possibilities discussed: Opening session of the KEI on March 3, 2019 with (from left to right): Holger Kelch (Mayor of Cottbus), Prof. Christiane Hipp (President of the BTU), Prof. Jörg Steinbach (Minister of Economic Affairs Brandenburg), Dr. Ing. Bettina Rechenberg (Head of Department, UBA), Corinna Enders (Managing Director of ZUG), Jochen Flasbarth (State Secretary of BMU).

Climate change mitigation in energy intensive industry

Both the Paris Agreement on Climate Change and the German Climate Action Plan 2050 contain a clearly formulated goal: Industry and society must be made greenhouse gas neutral in the longer term. Where energy intensive industry is concerned, this poses a highly complex challenge involving billions of euros in investment.

While German industry has made considerable efforts to mitigate climate change in the course of the past 30 years, a slight rise in industry emissions has been evident since 2015. These emissions are the result of the high demand for energy in many industry sectors and of the technical and physical processes involved in processing specific materials. Apart from increased energy efficiency, springboard innovations are needed to ensure that in the future, process chains and processing practices are climate neutral in design.

Transforming industrial processes naturally takes time, but because the lifecycle of industrial facilities covers several decades that transformation must begin without delay. With the KEI and the planned funding programme on industrial decarbonisation, industrial enterprises in Germany will receive climate action support and highly-qualified jobs will be secured for the longer term.