In 2021, around a third of Austrian greenhouse gases came from domestic industry. Can we reduce these emissions to zero by 2050? The innovation and cooperation platform “New Energy For Industry” (NEFI) investigated this question and created three scenarios.
Decisive for which path the industry takes is not only the will of the companies themselves, but also the framework conditions, said the head of the Center for Energy at the Austrian Institute of Technology (AIT) and NEFI coordinator, Wolfgang Hribernik. In order to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, one must expand the energy infrastructure and invest in research projects such as the construction of pilot plants. The intervention of the public sector is probably necessary for this, “it won’t work by itself”.
According to the study, if Austrian industry continues the technical transformation at the current level and speed, the annual greenhouse gas emissions will only be reduced to around 23 million tons by 2050, and by 2021 it was around 28 million tons.
Another industry draws the scenario in which no greenhouse gases are emitted at all by 2050. The focus here is on the use of so-called “breakthrough” technologies, which are scientifically considered to be the most promising solutions. According to the NEFI study, the main energy carriers will then be solid biomass, electricity, hydrogen and biogenic and synthetic methane. Like the others, the scenario can be implemented. “These are realistic and developable technologies, but that doesn’t mean that we’re at an available product level everywhere,” says Hribernik.
The third scenario delivers a similar result. To this end, representatives of various sectors of industry made an assessment of which technical transformations would be possible by 2030. Based on this, the extrapolation results in a scenario by 2050 in which emissions will decrease significantly: to around half a million tons of greenhouse gases per year.