Established in 2016, the working group on energy efficiency in industry 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 Energy Efficiency Directive (EED) and its 2018 amendment
- the EU Emission Trading System (ETS)
- the Industrial Emissions Directive (IED).
The working group 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|
|pulp & paper|
The working group 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 working group 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 working group's 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 working group's 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 objectives
In 2021, the working group revised its implementation plan to align its targets and activities with recent R&I developments and policy changes such as the European Green Deal. The revision was coordinated by DG ENER, assisted by the SET Plan IWG6 Secretariat. The Implementation Plan draws on the expertise of industry stakeholders to set out priority R&I activities and collectively agreed targets.
The new targets cover the years up to 2025, 2030 and 2050. In the revised implementation plan, each sectorial Thematic Group (cement, chemicals, iron & steel, and pulp & paper) presents their sector-level ambitions, which the SET Plan Action 6 R&I priorities aim at contributing to. Additionally, targets corresponding to each R&I priority activity area for all Thematic Groups are presented, including cross-cutting targets covering heating & cooling and systems.
Member States and non-EU SET Plan countries will have a fundamental role alongside the European Commission to work in collaboration with industry to facilitate the deployment and market penetration of emerging technologies. By collecting information from industry leaders, the revised implementation plan intends to support national governments in Action 6 areas in the following ways:
• Creating a shared understanding of R&I challenges and opportunities;
• Providing an overview of priority areas to focus R&I efforts on energy-intensive industries;
• Identifying priority activities where funding should be targeted (facilitate road-mapping by the European Commission and SET Plan countries);
• Enabling national governments to make informed policy decisions that further increase support to these areas.
The group is chaired by Finland, supported by a stakeholder co-chair – A.SPIRE, and thematic group leaders, and includes 18 other European countries, industrial stakeholders from the relevant sectors and research institutions.
Participating countries (in alphabetical order):
|Norway (associated country)|
|Turkey (associated country)|
|The European Cement Association (CEMBUREAU)|
|CO2 Value Europe|
|CCS Association (CCSA)|
|The Confederation of European Paper Industries (CEPI)|
|The European Chemical Industry Council (CEFIC)|
|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)|
|The Fuel Cells and Hydrogen Joint Undertaking (FCH JU)|
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 working group. It is not meant to be comprehensive or all-encompassing and should serve as a starting point for research on various sources of funding.
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:
Jobs and skills in the energy transition
Digitalisation of the Energy sector
Looking back at 10 years of Forward thinking SET Plan magazine
International Cooperation magazine
Funding Low-carbon Technologies magazine
Energy Systems Modelling magazine
Materials for Energy magazine
SET Plan conference 2021
Low carbon energy technologies: successes and opportunities
Implementing the SET Plan 2020 report