Thursday, 19 May 2011

Amsterdam EIP Workshop Outcomes

The four European Innovation Partnership (EIP) workshops that took place at the Amsterdam SusChem event each evaluated the status of an individual EIP proposal, looked at possible targets and held an open and dynamic discussion on the approach and content required. The outcomes of the workshops will be incorporated into initial draft programme proposals.

SusChem coordinator Ger Spork described the workshops as “excellent dialogue sessions” and said that initial drafting of a position paper on the four EIP proposals should now be completed by the beginning of June.

Brief outcomes from the four workshops are given below with contact emails for the relevant SusChem Programme Manager. Use the links to jump to your area of interest. The four EIP areas discussed were:
Brief descriptions of the EIP areas can also be found on this previous blog posting.

Smart Cities
Initial discussion in this workshop focused on some fundamental questions: What is a Smart City? Are we talking EU cities or global cities? What are specific areas for R&I for cities? Targets for CO2 emissions/ energy have already been set by politicians. Perhaps we need to step back from societal challenges to evaluate what the societal needs of big cities are? There is a clear need to better understand and define what a Smart City is and therefore what its innovation needs might be.

In addition, there are already many ongoing projects in this area that we need to learn from. Some 2000 cities in the EU have produced a written agenda or plan to curb emissions and/ or reduce energy use etc. What would be the unique selling point for an EIP: to change public (and private) mentalities?

It was felt that the Smart City proposal is microcosm of all the other challenges facing society. The Energy Efficiency in Buildings (EeB) Public Private Partnership (PPP) already had ~50% industrial membership. Likely technical issues were similar to those in EeB – such as energy storage and refurbishment – but the main challenges are not just technical they were also societal.

It was felt that the chemical industry would not sustain a significant lasting effect in this area without a defined potential to demonstrate technology. This meant working with a small number of cities that want to host demonstration projects. A final issue was the idea that not all steps in the value chain may be profitable in this area. This meant that a new ‘holistic’ profit sharing business plan would be needed that looked at the value chain from an integrated perspective – not an isolated link-by-link approach.

SusChem contact: Ed D’Hooghe
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Raw Materials for a Modern Society
Five work packages have already been determined for the Raw Materials EIP proposal; two of which are technical areas and three are largely policy action areas. The three mainly policy areas are Regulatory, knowledge, and infrastructure; Regulatory aspects recycling and excellence; and international cooperation.

The first technical work package covers new technologies for supply, extraction and recycling. A list of critical raw materials had been drawn up and a proposed chapter structure for the positioning paper drawn up. The second technical area/ work package is innovative technologies and solutions for substitution of critical raw materials. Both technical areas called for substantial input from the chemical and process industries.

The position paper should cover the case for raw materials substitution highlighting where substitution is necessary versus where substitution is possible. In terms of substitution there was a need to focus on areas where recycling was not a viable option. Principles for developing substitution material were needed to ensure principles no competition for supply, over demand on building blocks and identifying bottlenecks. One outcome was the need for additional input from industry to the recycling work package.

The workshop concluded that there was a need to focus on criteria for prioritisation. Criteria included scale and urgency (i.e. critical materials with few possible alternatives), the timeliness for delivery of new materials (to market), and the EU competitiveness position in terms of any technical lead and the market need for the material. Two initial potential priority candidates were noted: gallium and indium.

SusChem contact: Antonia Morales Perez
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Resource Efficiency in the Process Industry
This workshop was clearly the most popular at the SusChem event claiming well over 50% of the registered delegates. The proposed EIP has four themes: Feedstock; processing; products that enable better efficiency downstream; and recycling. Major topics debated in the workshop included what was the best methodology to measure sustainability in order to select appropriate projects? Was life cycle analysis (LCA) appropriate? It was concluded that a review of all current methods was needed with attention given to availability of good quality data and standardisation.

Raw materials sources were considered in terms of material cascades, biomass, and alternative renewable feedstocks (such as CO2). It was noted that it is difficult to achieve balance volumes in cascades and in some cases recycle is a viable alternative to a cascade approach. There is a need to consider optimal resource use: not just a biomass/ biorefinery approach.

A big question was ‘How to prioritise?’ There are many topics that could be covered in the programme. There was a need to develop a broad appealing programme but with a focus on areas and governance structure to set and avoid overlap with other initiatives. Another big question was how to involve SMEs. This could be difficult but the PPP instrument can offer opportunities. Industry can tailor opportunities that are more appropriate to SMEs and/ or streamline tendering and look at current best practise – for example the SusChem inspired BIOCHEM project. Also SusChem national platforms offered routes to engage with the SME community and that special attention should be given to entrepreneurs.

Other conclusions were that the EIP programme needed to show completeness and coherence. Targets needed to be measurable and should be therefore use aggregated results that were publicly available. One target should be to increase the fraction of bio-based feedstock used in the EU to 20%. It was noted that no additional stakeholder engagement was required for this EIP proposal at present.

SusChem contact: Ed D’Hooghe
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Water-efficient Europe
The objective of this proposed EIP is to boost innovation in the water sector? And why water? Because industrial water use (at 55%) is the major user of this increasingly scarce resource compared to urban use (16%) and agriculture (29%). A primary objective would be to integrate water management in these three use areas. At the heart of the Water-efficient Europe EIP would be cooperation with different sectors, and a comprehensive look within regions to find best practices for reuse of water.

Delegates thought that the EIP needed to be aware of too broad an approach and to focus on those areas in which the chemical sector is clearly already engaged. There was also a need to be aware of sustainable, multi-disciplinary, focussed solutions that are based on efficiency indicators. It was felt that the role of sectors outside the chemical industry was extremely important especially in terms of concepts of cascade use of water.

Regulation and standardisation had potential roles as stimulators of innovation and change in this area. It was important to stress targets and goals where the sector can be challenged, but bring its expertise as a global technology leader to the issue. SME involvement was important but problematic.

SusChem contact: Antonia Morales Perez
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