The industrial sector in transition – effects of transformation on the local level

Decarbonizing the industrial sector of the European Union will bring major changes to the final energy consumption of industry and to the mix of energy carriers used to provide this energy. In the process of decarbonization, some industrial clusters may arise as new major consumption centers of certain energy carriers such as electricity, while demand for other energy carriers may fall away, shift geographically to other clusters, or even shift to other sectors. Preparing for these changes requires consideration of many aspects, including:

  • An understanding of the different decarbonization technologies available to each branch of industry.
  • The effects these technologies may have on the final energy consumption of single processes and entire branches.
  • Knowledge of where these effects will have relevant impacts upon local infrastructure.

These and additional aspects are becoming increasingly relevant for national and international network operators and policymakers, as well as the industrial firms themselves.

Analyses of Regional Industry Clusters

In this discussion paper and the accompanying regional industry cluster profiles, the FfE demonstrates the potential effects of transforming three key industrial processes upon the regional energy consumption and resulting emissions of their respective branches of industry within regional industrial clusters. Data and modeling results obtained in past FfE projects, and currently being expanded and refined in the project TransHyDE-Sys, are drawn upon for this work. These analyses present a glimpse of the insights into both the industrial transformation and its consequences gathered over the course of many projects, as well as the methods and data that enable analyses of industrial consumption at different geographic scales.

Three energy- and emissions-intensive branches of industry are examined here: The iron & steel industry, the chemical & petrochemical industry, and the non-metallic minerals industry. As can be seen in Figure 1, originally featured in [1], in 2017 these three branches of industry accounted for nearly two-thirds of the industrial emissions in both the EU27 + 3 and Germany.

Figure 1: European energy and process related CO2 emissions (Scopes 1-3) by industry branch in 2017 in Mt CO2, balanced by the polluter pays principle. Originally presented in [1], data from Eurostat energy balances [2] and emissions factors per country from national inventory reports, e.g., [3]. Process emissions from [4].

The transformation of these three industries would represent a significant contribution to meeting national and international emissions reduction targets. The role of each of these branches as providers of key inputs for downstream industries also ensures their continued importance to the economy as a whole. Taken together, the decarbonization of these three branches of industry represents a key step towards a more sustainable society, and makes them the focus of these analyses.

The core results for each regional industry cluster are available in a primarily visual format as regional profiles. The discussion paper expands upon these profiles, presenting the methods used in these analyses and providing background information about the considered industries and processes. This additional information provides more context for the regional profiles and their connection to the overall project TransHyDE-Sys.

More Information



[1] Fiedler, Claudia et al.: Modelling transformation pathways for EU27+3 final energy demand using temporally and spatially resolved sector models. In: Conference Proceedings Current and Future Challenges to Energy Security; 5th AIEE Energy Symposium, virtual conference, December 2020. München: Forschungsstelle für Energiewirtschaft e.V., 2020.

[2] Eurostat Energiebilanzen – Daten 2017 (Ausgabe 2019): https://ec.europa.eu/eurostat/de/web/energy/data/energy-balances; Luxemburg: European Commission – Eurostat, 2019.

[3] Berichterstattung unter der Klimarahmenkonvention der Vereinten Nationen und dem Kyoto-Protokoll 2019 – Nationaler Inventarbericht zum Deutschen Treibhausgasinventar 1990 – 2017. Dessau-Roßlau: Umweltbundesamt, 2019.

[4] Eurostat – Data Explorer – Greenhouse gas emissions by source sector (source: EEA): https://appsso.eurostat.ec.europa.eu/nui/show.do?dataset=env_air_gge&lang=en; Luxembourg: Eurostat, the Statistical office of the European Union, 2020.