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Research and innovation

Energy Intensive Process Industries

What energy intensive process industries are, why the EU supports them, Processes4Planet partnership and Hubs4circularity

Why does the EU support research and innovation on energy intensive process industries?

The European Green Deal and the Industrial Strategy are setting the policy framework for sustainable and future proof development of the EU economy. Apart from responding to societal challenges, together with the more recent Green Deal Industrial Plan, they also aim to boost the competitiveness of Europe’s industry while accelerating the transition to climate neutrality.

Energy-intensive process industries, such as chemicals, steel, cement, non ferreous metals or ceramics, are the second largest global source of CO2 emissions. 

Although European process industries have substantially reduced their emissions in the last decades, they still represent a significant share (17%) of total CO2 EU emissions. For these industries, reaching climate neutrality is a challenging but, with the deployment of the right instruments and strategies, a possible goal (see IPCC 2022 report on mitigation of climate change). This will require, among others, the deployment of new clean production processes that are still at the pilot or near-commercial scale.

Increasing circularity of industrial processes and reducing waste

In parallel, increasing the circularity of the industrial processes and reducing waste generation are also important aspects that will have a broader impact on EU sustainability including not only climate neutrality but also the efficient use of resources.

The materials produced by these industries form some of the fundamental inputs to buildings, infrastructure, consumer goods and many other uses that are integral to thriving economies and our daily lives. The presence of the energy-intensive process industries in the EU is of strategic importance for the resilience of our society to unexpected events and crises.

Horizon Europe is investing in research and innovation in net zero industries including partnering with industry. EU investments in research and innovation help facilitate the flourishing of net-zero industrial value chains across Europe.

Research and innovation also ensure that these leads to less use of resources, increased circularity in the use of materials, energy and water, and a more sustainable life cycles.

Horizon Europe Partnership Processes4Planet (P4Planet)

P4Planet is a Horizon Europe co-programmed partnership with an overall budget of €2.6 billion, €1.3 billion from Horizon Europe and €1.3 billion for the private partners.

It is the successor to the Horizon 2020 SPIRE Partnership. The partnerships private partners are represented by A.SPIRE, with more than 150 members.

P4Planet‘s ambition is to make European energy intensive process industries circular and climate neutral by 2050 and enhance their global competitiveness.

At least 10 leading sectors of the European Process Industry will be engaged in the implementation of the partnership. These include cement, steel, ceramics, chemicals, engineering, minerals and ores, non-ferrous metals, water, refineries, and pulp or paper.

The partnership works on emerging technologies and on the scaling up of already developed technologies at higher technology readiness levels (TRLs) to deliver expected CO2 emission reductions by 2030 and achieve their full impact by 2050.

Proactive and continuous engagement with EU countries, regions, civil society, other research and innovation partnerships and initiatives, and other relevant stakeholders is crucial.


Hubs4Circularity are state-of-the-art demonstrator plants of near commercial size to deploy cross-sectorial collaboration and to reduce and optimise the use of resources (feedstock, energy and water) in a profitable way.

They are anchored in the local ecosystem to optimise the existing resources including investments and rely on funding strategies involving all local stakeholders. They are a key element of the road map of the Processes4Planet partnership.

The first projects kicked off in 2015 with 12 projects granted a total of €126 million under Horizon 2020. Four Hubs4Circularity projects have been granted €47 million under Horizon Europe in 2021.

Hubs4Circularity European Community of Practice (ECoP) was launched in summer 2022 with the goal to exchange knowledge, human capital and develop learning resources. Examples of operational Hubs4Circularity can be found in Finland (Green City Lathi), Denmark (Kalundborg Symbiosis) and Delta region (Smart Delta Resources).

Discover the infographic and get involved.


23 JUNE 2022
Hubs for circularity – Keeping local with a global impact
(269.16 KB - HTML)

18 JUNE 2020
Processes4Planet - Transforming the European Process Industry for a sustainable society
(4.75 MB - PDF)
22 APRIL 2022
Open innovation testbeds - definition
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