In line with the key areas of focus described above, we are working to link energy sources with energy sinks/consumers, especially in industry-intensive areas where greater integration can be achieved across different industrial sectors and individual enterprises. We are also working to create a new industrial model in which enterprise interaction is seen as beneficial. This idea is closely linked to the concept of the circular economy, for example, the exploitation of waste products.
Industrial clusters – the cross-sectoral integration of energy sources and sinks
Industrial clusters evolve when one or more closely adjacent enterprises exploit waste heat or surplus material flows generated by their neighbours. This offers a number of opportunities. Clustering in this way promotes the optimal exploitation of energy and material flows across industrial sectors, thus increasing efficiency and minimising total emissions. The HighEFF centre operates with an established industrial cluster as its partner (the Mo Industry Park9). An application for expansion of the cluster has been submitted. Work is also being carried out to develop several future clusters offering promising combinations of enterprises designed for the optimal utilisation of available resources.
There are many reasons why it is important to study established industry clusters. It is clearly important to further develop existing clusters with the aim of achieving even more efficient resource exploitation, improved profitability, and more jobs. It may be at least as important to study successful established clusters (such as the Mo Industry Park), in order to learn more about what works and the challenges that have arisen over time in the form of technological, legal and bureaucratic barriers. The knowledge obtained can then be used as a launch pad for successful projects elsewhere.
As noted in the foregoing, many industries, and in particular energy-intensive industries, generate large volumes of waste heat that it is currently not possible to exploit. For any given cluster, one approach to this problem may be the establishment of a new and closely adjacent industrial plant that can exploit this heat. Typical examples of such clusters, which have also been the subject of study, are found in the fish farming and alga cultivation sectors (such as Finnfjord AS, part of the Arctic Cluster Team10). The HighEFF centre has now launched a project designed to evaluate the possibility of establishing new plants close to existing clusters that are able to exploit available waste heat in combination with other potentially naturally-occurring resources. Such an approach may place Norway at a competitive advantage because the country has access to large volumes of pure water, inexpensive electricity, adjacency to the sea and marine raw materials.
Moreover, the development of efficient energy storage technologies and energy carriers will enable the expansion of existing industry clusters to encompass plants at greater distances from the cluster centre, so that current sources and users can be linked across larger geographical areas.