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Keep up to date on this page with all news relating to the SPiCE3 project, its initiatives, events, successes and awards. All our news stories are presented here and are summarised on a regular basis in the SPiCE3 newsletter. All registered users of SPiCE3 will receive the newsletter automatically. Non-registered users must register in order to receive these updates.

Improving Energy Efficiency in SMEs: the Italian example
24 Apr 2017

A recent European Commission study [1] on Best practices in Energy Efficiency revealed that some EU countries are already going beyond the requirements of the Energy Efficiency Directive (2012/27/EU). Among them, Italy has decided to take significant steps to address the question of energy efficiency in SMEs. The energy news website Energy-in-Demand International described the ambitious aspects of the Italian regulation (the full article is available here).

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Implementing energy management standard ISO 50001: The Borealis example
27 Feb 2017

Borealis is a major provider of innovative solutions in the fields of polyolefins, base chemicals and fertilizers with headquarters in Vienna, Austria.

Borealis’ Group-wide certification to ISO 9001 and ISO 14001 covers almost all locations and has energy already as an integral part of the environmental management system. To further strengthen its energy management, Borealis started in 2015 the process of certifying all its European entities in accordance with ISO 50001.

"Our established structured improvement process to obtain greater energy efficiency is well in line with the ISO standard requirements," states Wolfgang Haider, Borealis Group Manager Operational Excellence.

As part of this journey, Borealis Grand-Quevilly (France) late 2016 successfully passed the ISO 50001 certification. The auditors in particular recognised a strong commitment to energy efficiency throughout the organisation. Many colleagues at the location, operators in control rooms, on the shop floor and management, were interviewed during the intense 3.5 day certification process. "It was great teamwork, and the auditors highlighted positive elements such as the structured Energy Review, but foremost the high level of engagement in plant OPEX teams," adds Bertrand Walle, Borealis Energy Manager France.

The Grand-Quevilly experience also proves useful for the other locations. Borealis overall is preparing for the ISO 50001 group matrix certification in early 2018.

Last year also saw a successful Energy Efficiency Engagement tour across Borealis, outlining the implications of introducing the energy management system ISO 50001 to about 220 Borealis colleagues in Operations from extended Location Leadership Teams, and over 50 colleagues in key roles across Operations, Business Groups and Business Support functions.

"Like the daily attitude we cherish on safety and quality, energy considerations also feature in most of our company processes throughout the chain – energy conscious innovation and design, studies and projects portfolio prioritisation, and overall operational excellence,” states Lieven Stalmans, Borealis Group Manager Energy & Environment.

Borealis has over the past years also been cooperating with SPICE3 initiatives in several EU countries. "We consider SPICE3 a genuine example of Responsible Care as it enables to share experience and insight amongst companies in the European chemical industry,” concludes Lieven.

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The EU Energy Winter Package and the chemical sector
27 Feb 2017

The European Commission presented on 30/11/2016 its long-awaited package of measures for keeping the European Union competitive as the clean energy transition is changing global energy markets. Known under the name of EU Energy Winter Package, this piece of legislation includes revision proposals for the Energy Efficiency Directive (EED), the Energy Performance of Buildings Directive (EPBD), and the Renewable Energy Directive (RED).

The legislative proposals pushed by the European Commission as part of the Winter Package aim to put energy efficiency first and pave the way for the EU to become a global leader in renewable energy, while providing a fair deal for consumers.

This opens interesting possibilities for the European chemical sector to contribute in achieving these goals. On one hand, it creates business opportunities for manufacturers of products for energy savings (e.g. for insulation), renewable energy generation (solar panels and wind turbine parts), and for suppliers of construction materials (according to Cefic, the construction sector is the chemical industry’s second biggest customer, amounting to 8% of total chemical demand). On the other hand, it allows the chemical sector to take the lead in the process of achieving the renewable energy and energy efficiency targets set for 2020 and 2030 and avoid dramatic forcing mechanisms that could come in the future.

Voluntary agreements for Energy Efficiency

Since its inception, the EED has traditionally directed more of its attention to domestic final consumers and only partially addressed the industrial sector. While not explicitly mentioned, the EED revision proposal leaves the door open to the establishment of voluntary agreements among market actors, either within a national energy efficiency obligation scheme or as part of alternative policy measures adopted by a specific EU member.

Across the European Union, many Member States support energy efficiency through financial incentives and fiscal measures. Voluntary agreements are a common policy instrument for the industry sector, and 9 Member States have established such agreements with the industry (BE, DK, EI, FI, LU, NL, PT, SE and the UK).

For companies in the chemical sector with an interest in this process, voluntary schemes may be a way of getting ahead of the events and take part in the efforts undertaken by national governments to improve energy efficiency and meet the agreed targets.

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CETA trade deal approved: What opportunities for the European industry?
27 Feb 2017

The EU Parliament has recently approved the trade deal with Canada known as CETA. The vote, which took place on 15/02/2017, is the result of around 6 years of negotiations and closes the approval process opened with the adoption of the agreement (by both parties) at the EU-Canada Summit in October 2016.

This definitive vote in favour of a major trade agreement (consent from the EU Parliament was required before the agreement could be provisionally applied) occurs in a context in which many political forces in Europe, and President Donald Trump in the US, are systematically promoting policies and measures against globalisation.

CETA in a nutshell

The Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA) is basically a trade deal that aims to eliminate or significantly reduce barriers to all trade between Canada and the EU.The agreement covers all the aspects of the commercial relationship between the two parties; from tariffs and product standards to investment and professional certification, among many other areas. CETA’s ambitious scope include provisions for improving access to EU markets for goods and services; fostering investments through greater certainty and transparency; and creating new opportunities in EU procurement markets.

Foreseen impacts

CETA is expected to provide EU companies with greater better business opportunities in Canada under better conditions, and thus supporting jobs creation in Europe. The trade deal removes customs duties, ends restrictions on access to public contracts, opens-up the services market, offers better conditions for investors and helps prevent illegal copying of EU innovations and traditional products.

CETA will specifically benefit small and medium-sized enterprises by getting rid of 99% of the taxes they have to pay at Canadian customs and facilitating them the task of bidding for contracts in Canada's government. Moreover, expensive double testing in several areas will be eliminated, while ensuring that European standards and worker’s rights are duly protected.

According to the agreement, Canada will remove customs duties on EU exports worth €400 million, which will make Europe's exports more competitive on the Canadian market and allow European SMEs to benefit from cheaper parts, components, and other inputs from Canada which they use to make their products.

EU industry’s stance on CETA and opportunities

At the beginning of 2017, the leading European industry associations (incl. Cefic, the European Chemical Industry Council) grouped under the Alliance for a Competitive European Industry (ACEI) expressed their strong support to the agreement in a letter to the European Parliament, underlying the importance of CETA as part of an economically strong Europe.

The European industry considers that this highly ambitious trade agreement will have a positive impact on trade and investment between two of the most advanced economies in the world. Commercial transactions of chemicals between the EU and Canada amounted to €2.5 billion euros in 2015, with an annual trade surplus of almost €1 billion for the EU.

Until now, Canada and the EU have traded without CETA in place, which translated into significantly higher costs for doing business. It is estimated that the elimination of customs duties and reduced technical barriers will give a boost to SMEs and could increase trade between the EU and Canada by nearly 25%, increasing EU output by about €12 billion a year.

A controversial trade deal

Since its inception CETA has been at the centre of controversy, drawing criticism from consumer, environmental and public health groups. Critics allege that CETA threatens public services, labour and environmental standards and undermines governments’ effective power to impose regulations.

The EU and the European industry sector consider that the agreement contains all the guarantees to make sure that the economic gains do not come at the expense of democracy, the environment or consumers' health and safety.

Only time will tell to what extent CETA supporters and opponents were right about the real impact of this important trade agreement on the European economy and society.

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EU chemical industry reacts to Winter Package: Markets, not targets will drive change
30 Nov 2016

cefic

Brussels 30 November 2016 – Cefic, the EU chemical industry association, welcomes the "Winter Package" launched today by the European Commission. After several liberalisation packages, the Commission now gives a new and significant push towards a truly functioning European energy market.

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The urgent need for energy productivity
22 Nov 2016

Only eleven percent - Dr Steven Fawkes' blog

steven-fawkes square

November 22, 2016 - Dr Steven Fawkes talks about the role of energy productivity and energy efficiency as drivers of economic growth.

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What you should know about the ongoing review of the EU ETS
27 Oct 2016

The EU Emissions Trading System (EU ETS) is an essential part of the EU's energy and climate policy since 2005. It is basically a scheme that allows European companies to trade greenhouse gas emission allowances and it is currently the biggest carbon market in the world.

Now in its third phase, the EU ETS covers around 11,000 heavy energy-using installations (i.e. power stations and industrial plants) in 31 European countries, accounting for about 45% of Europe's total carbon emissions. Every company in the EU (plus Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway) combusting fuel (e.g. natural gas in boilers) in installations with a total capacity of more than 20 MW of rated thermal input is concerned by the EU ETS.

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Responsible Care Awards 2016: Special commendation in Energy Efficiency category for HCS Group
27 Oct 2016

New energy concept at the Haltermann Carless site at Speyer (DE)

The HCS Group identified a potential use for unused vent gas produced during the storage and transfer of naphtha into tanks at its Speyer site in Germany. The HCS Group and GETEC heat & power AG joined forces to seek a solution, which resulted in the development of burner technology that integrates the vent gas in the combustion process of HCS's thermal oil plant, thus saving heating oil previously used as a supplementary fuel.

The company

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HCS Speyer plant in Germany.

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Cefic announces the Winners of the 2016 European Responsible Care Awards!
27 Oct 2016

Earlier this month, the four winners of the 11th edition of the European Responsible Care Awards were unveiled by Cefic, the European Chemical Industry Council, at a special ceremony during its annual general assembly in Florence, Italy.

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Financing Energy Productivity Growth
27 Oct 2016

Only eleven percent - Dr Steven Fawkes' blog

steven-fawkes square

October 27, 2016 - Dr Steven Fawkes reports his presentation at the 7th Forum on Energy for Sustainable Development in Baku, Azerbaijan.

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