The contribution of Dutch industry, including that in the Northern Netherlands, from Emmen to Eemshaven, is essential to meeting the Dutch carbon emission targets in 2030 and 2050. In the Northern Netherlands, the regional Industry Forum drew up a report in 2018 on the reductions already achieved and ways of further reducing carbon emissions. A recent progress report (May 2020) shows that carbon emissions in the Northern Netherlands fell even further last year. That means that industry in the Northern Netherlands is well ahead of the Paris climate targets.
“Since the survey of ways of reducing carbon emissions in the Northern Netherlands in 2018, a number of outstanding projects have been completed resulting in a reduction of carbon of 54 per cent per tonne of product compared to the reference year 1990. As a result, here in the North we are already almost meeting the 2030 Paris targets,” says Cas König, chairman of the Industry Forum for the Northern Netherlands and CEO of Groningen Seaports.
In the period from 1990 to 2019, carbon emissions went down by 700,000 kilotonnes per year (-26 percent). During the same period, the production of companies increased from 4.6 to 7 megatonnes. As a result of efficient growth, carbon emissions per tonne of product are 54 per cent lower. Relative emissions have fallen significantly further.
The report was presented on 26 May to the Minister of Economic Affairs and Climate, Eric Wiebes, who received it with enthusiasm. “The progress report of the Industry Forum Northern Netherlands clearly shows how intensively industry is working to reduce carbon emissions. The results achieved in the North look impressive. This report is now the first of the six clusters throughout the Netherlands to deliver their report as an elaboration of the climate table. This gives us a clear insight into the progress that is being made by industry,” says Minister Wiebes.
Minister of Economic Affairs and Climate, Eric Wiebes (photo: Ministry of Economic Affairs and Climate Policy)
One of the measures already implemented to achieve the 2030 objective is based on replacing the current steam production with biosteam. “By connecting biosteam producers EEW and Eneco to the existing steam network of Chemie Park Delfzijl, natural gas consumption and associated carbon emissions fell significantly by 35 per cent in 2019. Also, a permit was recently issued to produce biogas on a large scale in Emmen,” says Cas König.
Nitrogen emissions are also drastically falling. Thanks in part to sustainable energy producers in the Northern Netherlands, it has been made possible in recent years to decommission older power plants. “As a result, the region has achieved a nitrogen emission reduction of 71 per cent since 1990, despite an increase in the number of established companies. Nitrogen emissions per tonne of product have dropped by as much as 82 per cent here,” says Cas König.
Industry in the Northern Netherlands is convinced that production can be made more sustainable in years to come with the help of existing plans and technologies. “Based on the projected efficiency improvements energy savings alone will further reduce carbon emissions in absolute terms compared to 1990. A carbon reduction of 49 per cent by 2030 therefore seems perfectly feasible, by implementing energy efficiency improvements and increasing the share of biosteam, for instance. The corona crisis is making us wonder whether we should produce more essential products for our daily use and healthcare domestically. We expect to see a rise in production in the next few years, which is entirely in line with what we stand for: more work, less carbon,” says Frans Alting, director of the Eems Delta Industrial Alliance.
“And even then we’re not there yet,” notes IJzebrand Rijzebol, member of Groningen’s Provincial Executive. “To achieve a fully carbon-neutral industry, we need to look beyond current technologies. Among other things, this calls for the use of other energy carriers, the production of renewable raw materials, the smart exchange of residual products from industry and the development of innovation processes. Hydrogen is an indispensable link in this process and offers many opportunities for new jobs in the Northern Netherlands.”
“This progress report shows very clearly that industry in our region is on the right track,” says Henk Brink, member of Drenthe’s Provincial Executive. “Thanks to the existing cooperation between companies, knowledge institutes and governments, the North has a good starting position for the industrial transition. Greening will be encouraged and industrial production and associated jobs will be promoted from Emmen to Eemshaven. The central role for the companies is a crucial factor. They need to invest to make their cluster more sustainable and take steps towards achieving a circular economy.”
In 2018, the report of the Industry Forum Northern Netherlands was published setting out concrete solutions to reduce carbon emissions. “This progress report is a follow-up to that and came about through intensive cooperation with the Rotterdam-Moerdijk Industry Forum and the other clusters. More progress reports will be drawn up in the future to keep a close eye on whether the 2030 targets are being achieved,” concludes Cas König.
The companies in the Industry Forum Northern Netherlands have taken significant steps in recent years to improve energy efficiency and increase the share of sustainably generated energy. The companies are among the most efficient production sites in Europe and at the same time relatively energy intensive. In addition to these companies, the Industry Forum Northern Netherlands also represents governments and NGOs in the provinces of Groningen and Drenthe. As well as integrated industrial clusters in Eemshaven, Delfzijl and Emmen, it also includes large production locations outside clusters. The region jointly presents itself as Chemport Europe.
Chemie Park Delfzijl (photo: Groningen Seaports)