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Energy efficiency in industry Implementation Working Group

About the IWG

The Implementation Working Group (IWG) on energy efficiency in industry, or IWG 6, aims to help energy intensive industries become less energy-, resource-, and emissions-intensive and more competitive.  

It builds on EU and national initiatives to step up cooperation among EU-wide research and innovation sectors to: 

  • continue improving the performance and cost effectiveness of industry 
  • increase the wider use of renewables and alternative energy sources. 

Industrial competitiveness is an important component in the context of the EU’s energy and climate objectives and the challenge posed by growing competitive pressures from emerging economies.  

The EU Green Deal emphasises that the transition to a more sustainable EU economy needs to safeguard the competitiveness of energy-intensive industries, which is recognised in the Green Deal as ‘indispensable’ to the EU’s economy.  

The energy efficiency of EU industry is a key driving factor in the energy transition in Europe. It is addressed by 4 relevant pieces of EU legislation:  

The IWG addresses specific industrial sectors: iron & steel and chemicals; and since 2020, cement and pulp & paper, as well as cross-cutting aspects – heat & cold management and system integration. 

Sector specific thematic groups Cross-cutting thematic groups 
iron & steel heat & cold 
chemicals system integration 
pulp & paper  


IWG 6 plays an essential role in setting out the required measures to achieve the ambitious energy efficiency targets that the European Commission set for energy intensive industries by 2030 and 2050. 

The IWG is engaged in several activities: 

  • designing a common research and innovation (R&I) strategy by identifying areas of interest for specific R&I activities in the IWG 6 implementation plan  
  • revising, updating and monitoring the implementation plan 
  • developing R&I activities, to be financed either through national or EU support 
  • identifying potential funding sources for R&I activities at national and EU level 
  • monitoring the progress of ongoing R&I projects at national and European level 
  • bringing together stakeholders and IWG 6 countries through meetings and networking events to discuss and share experiences on: 
  • technical challenges and projects 
  • common non-technical barriers to project implementation and funding, developing ideas on how to overcome such obstacles.  

Targets and objective

Priority R&I activities to be carried out by the thematic groups are set out in the IWG 6 implementation plan.  

The 2017 implementation plan originally set activity targets based on a technology’s maturity and economic viability as defined by technology readiness level (TRL).  

Sector-specific activities in the steel and chemical sectors had 2 overarching targets for technology development and demonstration by 2030 (technologies with a TRL of between 4 and 6 being considered separately from those at 7 or above). Cross-cutting activities on heat & cold and systems have focused on developing and demonstrating technologies so as to reach TRL 8 by 2025.  

As part of the Implementation Plan’s revision, the targets will be revised to take into account: 

  • the inclusion of new sectors 
  • a better alignment of Action 6’s priorities with the European Green Deal, which has accelerated its ambitions of achieving a carbon-neutral economy by 2050, and reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 55% by 2030. 

The IWG 6 membership comprises 19 SET Plan countries and industrial stakeholders from 4 sectors (chemicals, iron & steel, pulp & paper and cement – part of the non-metallic minerals sector), supporting cross-cutting technology areas (heat & cold, systems – enabling energy technologies), as well as non-governmental organisations and research institutions (see table below).  

The group is structured into several thematic groups based on key opportunity areas, with DG ENER   coordinating activities.  

The group is chaired by Finland, and is supported by a stakeholder co-chair (A.SPIRE) and thematic group leaders. 

IWG members

Czech Republic


The European Cement Association (CEMBUREAU)
CO2 Value Europe 
CCS Association (CCSA) 
The Confederation of European Paper Industries (CEPI) 
The European Chemical Industry Council (CEFIC) 
COGEN Europe 
Delft University of Technology 
Knowledge Center on Organic Rankine Cycle (KCORC)
Euroheat & Power 
European Association for Storage of Energy (EASE) 
European Energy Research Alliance (EERA) 
EU Geothermal Energy Council (EGEC) 
European Network of Transmission System Operators for Electricity (ENTSO-E) 
European Network of Transmission System Operators for Gas (ENTSO-G) 
European University Association (EUA) 
The European Steel Association (EUROFER) 
European Steel Technology Platform (ESTEP) 
Forest-based Technology Platform (FTP) 
Hydrogen Europe 
The Fuel Cells and Hydrogen Joint Undertaking (FCH JU) 



The IWG 6 implementation plan is currently being updated based on inputs from its members. DG ENER is coordinating the revision, assisted by the SET Plan IWG 6 Secretariat. A final revised version is expected to be drafted and endorsed by the first half of 2021.  

The revised implementation plan has increased in scope, along with the work of the IWG, in the following ways: 

  • expansion from focusing on energy and resource efficiency to including emissions reductions, to reflect changes in EU policy framework (such as the EU Green Deal)  
  • inclusion of new sectors (cement and pulp & paper) to boost collaboration and enable progress towards energy efficiency and emissions reductions 
  • inclusion of another cross-cutting area (enablers and non-technical barriers), either as a new thematic group or a general area of focus for the whole IWG  
  • inclusion of a long-term perspective to consider market uptake of innovative solutions and R&I activities beyond 2030.  

National and European projects have been implemented to demonstrate technologies which fall under the sectorial and cross-cutting priorities of the implementation plan. 

In the first half of 2021, a new project will demonstrate supercritical CO2 power cycles in an operational environment, which will convert industrial waste heat into power. This project is a direct result of the SET Plan IWG 6 2018 workshop, where several project ideas were merged into the R&I area ‘Further development and adaptation of next generation power cycles (especially supercritical CO2)’, forming the basis of the H2020 topic LC-SC3-CC-9-2020.


Database on financial instruments  

This database gives an overview of the various financing programmes available across the EU, Member States, and members of SET Plan IWG 6. It is not meant to be comprehensive or all-encompassing and should serve as a starting point for research on various sources of funding. 

Database on financial instruments
(135.04 KB - XLSM)


Outcomes of the 2019 Networking event 

The event focused on cooperation and finance for making European industry less energy-, resources- and emissions-intensive, and more competitive, specifically in the sectors of steel production, chemicals, heat and cold technologies and system integration: 

(1.46 MB - PDF)


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