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BAT benchmarking tools for industry

Panel: 2. Sustainable production towards a circular economy

Ana Morgado, University of Cambridge, United Kingdom


According to the International Energy Agency, industry is responsible for over a third of the total greenhouse emissions. Despite current debate’s primary focus on efficiency improvements in buildings and transportation, the scale of emission reduction potential from the industry sector is considerably bigger, and thus, crucial for achieving carbon neutrality.

In 2017, industrial energy-related emissions increased 14%, surpassing 3.5 GtCO2eq. Hence, the preferential treatment that has been given to energy efficiency, EE, options for curbing industrial emissions comes as no surprise. Nonetheless, and in spite of the remarkable decreased in process energy intensity observed in the past 50 years, the importance of EE improvements in reducing the impacts of rising economic activity on final energy use have been steady since 2000. While other decarbonisation strategies, such as Carbon Capture and Storage, are still being developed, it is important to assess how Material Efficiency, aimed at delivering the same level of goods and services by reducing the materials consumed in their production, and Resource Efficiency, RE – the combined effect of energy and material efficiency –, improvements contribute to achieve the imposed emissions reductions targets in the industrial sector.

It seems intuitive that an effective management of resources allows companies to reduce costs, namely by avoiding waste, ensuring bigger flexibility to adapt to future regulation, while simultaneously responding to the need to wisely use scarce resources and to reduce industrial energy-related emissions. However, the lack of a cross-sectorial single metric benchmark makes it hard for companies to assess and compare their performance. This works aims at benchmarking RE across industrial sectors, using exergy as a single metric, allowing industries to assess their performance against the Best Available Techniques, as well as comparing RE with other environment indicators.

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