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.