The European Commission and European Parliament have anounced their ambition to increase emissions reduction levels to reach 50-55% and even 60% by 2030 and carbon-neutrality by 2050 vs. 1990 levels. The Benelux area is expected to play a pivotal role in Europe’s decarbonization given the region’s high emissions target (1.2x EU average) and high emissions density (3.7x EU average) combined with a high Innovation Score (1.3x EU average). Since the climate challenge for the Benelux region is above average, it is also in a position to potentially contribute in a significant way to the reduction of emissions and can therefore make a significant contribution to the emission targets of the entire EU.

 Launch of Benelux Green Deal

Against this background, the BBR is now launching an industry wide climate action plan that should eventually lead to carbon neutrality of the region, with CCUS (Carbon Capture and Usage) and hydrogen (H2) as spearheads.

By harmonizing rules and regulations, using economies of scale, suppressing unnecessary barriers and bottlenecks and developing a clear holistic industry decarbonization plan and perspective on associated energy system needs, the Benelux region can show the way to Europe on how to overcome national reticence to an ever closer union, when clear and tangible benefits are realized for citizens and companies. This would enable the Benelux to make a significant contribution to the EU Green Deal and provides the European Commission and member states with valuable knowledge and best practices.

Unlocking the potential of Benelux region

Its natural partnership, based on common features of geography, history, culture, economic profile that are formalized in the Benelux treaty, provides the three countries with a unique opportunity to realize on a smaller scale but at a faster pace than other regions in Europe, many of the ambitions of the European project. There is an impressive number of ongoing CCUS and H2 projects in the Benelux region, it has direct access to the North Sea with large offshore wind and CO2-storage potential, and the region has a high level of promising innovations on low carbon tech.

Whilst the Benelux area has made significant progress with next-generation low-carbon technologies there remains a significant gap between the required carbon abatement and technological capacity coming online between now and 2050. A systematic approach to involve as many industrial players as possible – exactly what BBR is doing – in these technologies is therefore required.

The region could:

  • Leverage its geographic position (7 important ports, access to offshore carbon sinks) for rapid and cost-efficient scale-up of CCUS projects;
  • Utilize its large network of existing gas infrastructure;
  • Apply existing knowledge / capabilities for further large-scale CCUS and H2 projects;
  • Deploy short-term connecting possibilities for NRW to accelerate development of a European network.

This gives Benelux the advantage and potential of being a testing ground and fulfilling a pioneering role. The European Commission and other member states can also benefit from this due to knowledge and best practice sharing. BBR is therefore a very useful vehicle to facilitate the stimulations of cross-border decarbonization.

What does BBR aim for?

Within this context, and based on initial conversations with industrial players and relevant political stakeholders, BBR and its working members would like to play a facilitating role in stimulating cross-industry and cross-border decarbonization progress in three fields:

  1. Harmonization of cross-border regulation: BBR will identify the regulatory barriers which exist against cross border and cross sector infrastructure projects at regional, national and European level with initial focus on the cross-border transport of CO2 and H2 and the set-up of an open access pipeline infrastructure and propose harmonization routes. BBR will work in close collaboration with Smart Delta Resources and Antwerp@Sea and is open to receive input from other parties.;
  2. Acceleration of project impact by stimulating collaboration through knowledge sharing, both between ETS projects (e.g., Project Porthos, Athos, CCUS Antwerp, CCUS Smart Delta Resources) and ETS and non-ETS projects – thus increasing the number of large-scale, cross-border, cross-sector projects and thereby potentially increasing eligibility for European funding;
  3. Development of a holistic industry decarbonization plan and perspective on associated energy system needs that clearly outlines the path to carbon-neutrality across multiple time horizons, incl. an assessment of potential symbiosis between ETS non-ETS sectors.

Reach out to stakeholders

As illustrated by the very comprehensive and convincing advice of the Task Force Infrastructuur Klimaatakkoord Industrie (TIKI) which was presented to the Dutch Minister of Economy and Climate on May 13th, 2020, the development and scaling of an energy-infrastructure needs to be addressed step-by-step with first focus on CCSU, hydrogen and electricity, and in collaboration with all stakeholders and with neighboring countries.

BBR, coming to similar conclusions as TIKI, reaches out:

to the national and regional governments of the Benelux countries to support the development of public and private cross-border energy-infrastructure, through harmonization of the regulatory framework and coordination of a Benelux decarbonization plan;

to industrial parties by joining the call for a Benelux Green Deal and contribute to the successful development of cross-border energy infrastructure;

to the EU/EC by recognizing, through the support of  public and private investment projects, the pivotal role which the Benelux region can and should play to lead on the road towards carbon neutrality.

 To find out more, please read “BBR Benelux Green Deal”