Monday, 10 June 2013

How Europe can benefit from SPIRE?

In this interview, adapted from the Cefic Sustainability Flagship initiative website, Cefic Gernot Klotz, Cefic Executive Director for Research & Innovation (right), explains how SPIRE – the proposed Public-Private-Partnership for a Sustainable Process Industry through Resource and Energy efficiency  -  can provide sustainability solutions for Europe while at the same time creating jobs and improving the global competitiveness of Europe. The debate on how Europeans can manage resources and energy in a sustainable way has been going on for many years. The chemical industry not only has the responsibility, but also the unique ability to respond to these challenges. One of the most ambitious projects addressing them is SPIRE, which has been selected as one of Cefic’s flagship initiatives on sustainability.

What is SPIRE about?
SPIRE is one of the first innovation-driven public-private partnerships in Europe. We want to push concrete action towards innovation in resource, energy efficiency and optimise cooperation between the different process sectors. Eight of those sectors, including steel, water, minerals and chemicals have joined forces to bring Europe closer to the objectives it needs to reach.

What are the objectives of SPIRE?
SPIRE wants to provide a long-term sustainable solution to Europe’s main challenges, which are competitiveness, environmental issues and employment. Our aim is to develop the required technologies and solutions along the value chain to address those challenges.

Our two main ambitions are:

  • reducing fossil energy intensity by up to 30% from current levels 
  • reducing non-renewable, primary raw material intensity by up to 20% from current levels

Both ambitions will contribute to efficiency improvement in CO2-equivalent footprints of up to 40% by 2030.

When did the project start?
We started one and a half years ago. There is a strong consensus between policy makers and industry about the need to improve the way we manage resources and energy. Industry has the tools to address these challenges, but cannot do it alone. As we want to address expectations coming from the public, the best model is for the public and the private sector to join forces and to push Europe forward.

How do you plan to reach your ambitions by 2030?
Currently we have finished work on a roadmap concerning the ways to achieve this. The roadmap has clear, visible and committable targets on renewable resource, CO2 footprint and energy use.

In July of 2012, we founded a new association called A.SPIRE. The members are companies, associations and especially research and technology organizations which help us carry the “baby” from research into adulthood. We involve top-academia and high-tech SMEs to activate the value chain and make solutions available to less performing sectors. We want to make the EU process industry the leading global competitor.

What are the next steps for SPIRE?
In January 2014 Horizon 2020 (the next EU Framework Programme for Research and Innovation) will start, and we have to be ready to go forward. As the process industry is an industry which is based on long-term investment, we think that by 2020 - that’s how long SPIRE will run - we will have all the scale-up and innovation ready. Let’s assume that it will take 5 to 10 years to bring it to the market. We are quite certain that by 2030 we can achieve all the targets. That’s the rough timeline.

What impact do you anticipate SPIRE making on the European economy?
Our approach should allow Europe to create new jobs, encourage world-class research and help create better products and technologies. All this would stimulate entrepreneurship and create new markets.

What would the impact on sustainability be?
Europe would make a giant leap in sustainability. Our focus on innovation and our ability to connect across sectors will create a shift in the mentality of industry’s main drivers. SPIRE addresses many sustainability areas, such as the low-carbon economy and energy efficiency. The benefits for Europe would be huge.


For more information on SPIRE visit its website and find more information on other Cefic Sustainability Flagship Initiatives here.

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