Industry in NRW

North Rhine-Westphalia is the core industrial region in Germany and one of the most important industrial regions in Europe. In terms of climate protection, the sector has a particular responsibility.

In 2019, the turnover of industrial companies in Germany was around 1.8 trillion euros. More than one out of every five euros of this was generated by manufacturing companies located in NRW. They employ a quarter of the country’s entire working force.

The industrial sector plays a decisive role in NRW’s transition to climate neutrality. The products manufactured are an indispensable building block for achieving climate protection targets. Glass and silicone are needed, for example, for the construction of photovoltaic systems and wind turbines. Electric vehicles would be inconceivable without lightweight materials such as aluminium and carbon fibre. At the same time, industry is rated as one of the worst polluters in terms of CO2 emissions, accounting for around 22 per cent of the total in NRW. Primary industries such as steel, cement and chemicals are responsible for a large share of this.


Thanks to the optimisation of systems engineering and production processes, the industrial sector in North Rhine-Westphalia has in fact been able to reduce its annual emissions by around 41 per cent compared to 1990 levels. But it is still a long way off net zero. Around two thirds of the total emissions from the energy-intensive industrial sector are due to combustion processes and companies generating their own power; one third is linked to production processes.


Industry in NRW in 2045: climate neutral and competitive

Entirely new approaches are needed to achieve an industrial sector that will manufacture its products in a climate-neutral way by 2045. The basic foundation required is a sufficient supply of renewable energy. The focus is on areas such as electrification and making processes more flexible, using hydrogen as a raw material in the chemical industry, as a reduction agent in steel production and as fuel for high-temperature heat. In addition, the use or storage of carbon dioxide plays a major role in achieving climate protection targets. IN4climate.NRW, the state agency and specially-developed work platform established in 2019 to deal with these issues, supports industry in this transformation process, in collaboration with scientists and the state government, using a cross-sector and interdisciplinary approach.

NRW – a leading provider of climate-neutral technologies

Plant engineering is crucially important in terms of delivering climate-neutral and innovative systems to achieve climate protection targets and implement the transition. To ensure that successful transition results from innovation, investment and a functioning market are needed to move on from the pilot applications phase. Depending on the respective product, the necessary volume level needs to be achieved to permit market entry using economies of scale. To this end, NRW.Energy4Climate will provide support to plant engineering in NRW to establish the required conditions and promote projects, and to develop the right strategies for market entry in collaboration with the relevant bodies involved.

NRW has internationally competitive medium-sized companies

For energy-intensive medium-sized companies, climate protection presents both a challenge and at the same time an opportunity. In view of the ambitious climate protection goals, further increases in fossil fuels costs along with relatively high prices for electricity can be expected. Industry will not only have to optimise the efficiency of all its processes and plants but at the same time potentially convert to a completely climate-neutral system of production. In order to support companies in this area and as the link that draws together regional and national forces, NRW.Energy4Climate will present the required economic, infrastructural and regulatory conditions and support projects that demonstrate best practice.

NRW – the pioneer of a circular economy

Alongside a secure supply of sustainable raw materials, comprehensive climate protection requires a changeover from a linear to a circular economy. This system transformation can contribute considerably to closing the carbon cycle and reducing long-term demand for and dependency on raw materials. NRW.Energy4Climate supports companies in the raw materials sector and circular economy right up to production plants with appropriate partners in changing their raw material base and adapting their supply chains. To this end, NRW.Energy4Climate brings players from the economy, policymaking and scientific research together, provides information about developments, supports projects and helps to design the transition from science to practice, for example in terms of innovative recirculation systems. In addition, the state agency also intends to support exemplary and ground-breaking projects to position NRW as a sustainable location for industry.

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