Study: how to make Flemish industry climate-neutral by 2050?
Flemish Minister for Economy and Innovation, Hilde Crevits (CD&V), wants to make a giant leap to carbon-neutrality by 2050 in the Flemish industry. The study ordered by the minister and Vlaio, the Flemish contact center for entrepreneurs, provides a series of recommendations with carbon capturing and storing (CCS) to get halfway to the target.
The chemical sector, steel production, and refineries are crucial for the economy, but in Flanders alone, they represent about 90% of all greenhouse gases. Some 176 300 people are directly employed by those sectors (343 000 undirectly), or 12% of Flanders’ employment.
The European Union’s ambition is to become climate-neutral by 2050, and Flanders is committed to following the same goals for energy-consuming sectors. These goals are challenging for the Flemish industry, authorities, and society.
CCS as point of depature
According to the study, the point of departure is to reduce half of the CO2 emissions by catching and storing them in empty gas fields or transforming them into other products. The industry is advised to use more biomass instead of fossil fuels and use more (green) electricity for heating instead of natural gas. This way, a considerable CO2 reduction should be feasible.
However, there are still several doubtful parameters. Flanders will need more hydrogen for a sustainable industry, but it is partly dependent on importing it. So, it will be important to make sure it will be available at a competitive price.
Minister Crevits also emphasizes that the innovation policy will be continued. Flanders will use all financial support Europe provides with its Green Deal. “When Flanders will become a forerunner in climate neutrality, it might attract other economic activities,” the Minister says. “New companies will find their way to Flanders via environmentally friendly technologies, reliable basic infrastructure, and sector-exceeding clusters.”
The study fits in with the Flemish government’s innovation program, a total investment of 400 million euros. The program was launched last year and will invest 20 million euros annually in Flemish research into new technologies to be applied on an industrial scale by 2050.