Why Industry Is Crucial to the Energy Transition, and What SET Award 2023 Is Doing to Tackle This

For 2023, the Start Up Energy Transition Award enters its seventh year. Over the last six years, 2,700 start-ups from over 100 countries have applied. Together, they have showcased their solutions to transform our energy generation and usage from one reliant on fossil fuels to cleaner, greener and fairer forms of energy. While many answers to this challenge are noticeable in everyday society and grab newspaper headlines – such as mobility solutions or ones that speak to the United Nations Global Development Goals – the majority of changes that need to happen will do so away from the spotlight. That is why for 2023, the SET Award has unveiled two new categories which answer this: “Industry” and “Buildings & Construction“.

What is meant by ‘Industry’ and what does it have to do with the energy transition?

We take our lead from the International Energy Agency which defines ‘Industry’ as encompassing the production and processing of the raw materials our societies need. These include iron and steel, chemical production, aluminium, pulp and paper, cement, the development of hydrogen and electrification as alternatives to fossil fuel power, and finally ‘light industry’ – a broad category that accounts for 17% of all industrial emissions. ‘Light industry’ includes the production of food (14% of light industry emissions), timber (1%), machinery (8%), vehicles (2%), textiles (3%), consumer goods (55%), and mining (8%). The IEA also includes construction in this category but we will look at this in more detail in upcoming posts.

According to the World Energy Outlook 2022 report, heavy and light industries emit 33% of total greenhouse gas emissions and use 38% of global energy. In 2021, it emitted 9.4 Gt of CO2, accounting for a quarter of all CO2 pumped into the earth’s atmosphere (and this doesn’t account for indirect emissions from electricity used for industrial processes). As such, innovation here is one of the most important ways to decarbonise. And while there has been some improvements, such as increased energy efficiency and renewable energy uptake, the sector still needs to accelerate efforts to transform and reach net-zero.

How can the sector reach net zero?

Three factors are critical to the success of the industrial sector reaching net zero.

  • The first is greater efficiency reached in materials and energy usage;
  • Second, a more rapid uptake of renewable fuels;
  • And third, the faster development and deployment of low-carbon production processes – including hydrogen, and carbon capture and storage.

The SET Platform chose ‘Industry’ because of its indisputable importance to the energy transition and the urgent need to reach net zero by 2050,” explains Pia Dorfinger, Head of Digital Technology & Start-Up Ecosystems at the German Energy Agency.

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A closer look at SET Award 2023 and the ‘Industry’ category.

Innovation here is one of the most important ways to decarbonise. Our own data shows that many of our past applicants would directly fall under this category if it was included in past SET Awards. Therefore we want to encourage as many entrepreneurs, innovators and early-stage businesses to apply as soon as possible. We hope these new categories encourage some healthy competition and inject more relevance for our sector as we continue the global energy transition together.

She adds that solutions that display a strong commitment to positive social impact and change would score highly by the SET Award’s partners, the World Energy Council.

Apply for the SET Award and join the global SET Community

Apply and get the chance to win €10,000 in prize money; a speaking slot at the Berlin Energy Transition Dialogue 2023; an opportunity to attend the World Energy Leaders’ Summit in Rotterdam; a profile across the World Energy Council’s global energy network of 99 countries; and priceless other networking opportunities and event invitations throughout the year and beyond. See all prizes here.

The application deadline for the SET Award 2023 is 16 January, 2023.

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