Applied research institutes launch cross-border collaboration platform to facilitate transition to industrial carbon-neutrality in the trilateral region


If Europe and its member states want to achieve their ambition to become the first climate-neutral continent by 2050, the need for a cross-sector, cross-vector and cross-border approach under the umbrella of an international collaboration cannot be ignored.

That is why applied research institutes TNO (The Netherlands), DECHEMA (Germany) and VITO/EnergyVille (Belgium) decided to rely on their existing active collaboration within the framework of several nationally funded research projects, to further build the foundation for an international cross-border knowledge platform.

As a result, they have come to sign a ‘memorandum of understanding’ to establish a public-private platform on trilateral industrial carbon-neutrality – with a specific view to foster international collaboration between stakeholders from industry, governments, regulators and infrastructure asset owners/operators to facilitate the transition to industrial carbon-neutrality in the trilateral region.

road ahead future

In the following decades, the ambition to become the first climate-neutral continent by 2050 is undoubtedly one of the most crucial challenges for Europe and its member states. And although the final collaborative goal might be crystal clear, the journey to net zero carbon emissions can and will not go unnoticed: it will be cross-sector – impacting all levels of society, cross-vector –  affecting all energy and industrial feedstock flows, and cross-border –  requiring international collaboration.

North-western Europe – and in particular the Antwerp – Rotterdam – Rhein – Ruhr Area (ARRRA) – is one of the largest worldwide hubs for energy-intensive industries and international logistics, a.o. maritime, aviation and long-haul road transport. The region has a well-implemented fuel, feedstock and electricity infrastructure – crossing national borders and serving the various industrial clusters. Nevertheless, from a cross-vector point of view, opportunities to re-use the existing energy infrastructure and needs for new infrastructure are unclear. And this level of uncertainty is even higher from a cross-sector and a cross-border point of view, when considering its use and potential synergies for energy flexibility, storage and other needs that come with the transition to a low-carbon European economy.

That is why international cross-border collaboration is essential to gain insight into both industrial cross-sector opportunities and hurdles, and future cross-border infrastructure needs, as such collaboration will facilitate the identification of synergies in supply and transport of energy and feedstock during the energy transition.

In the course of the last 2 years, applied research institutes TNO (The Netherlands), DECHEMA (Germany) and VITO/EnergyVille (Belgium) already established an active collaboration within the framework of several nationally funded research projects.

That is why now, in the light of the above, they decided to rely on this existing collaboration to further build the foundation for an international cross-border knowledge platform, based on the premise that they themselves and their respective industrial partners share that common understanding of this essential need for international collaboration.

As a result, they have come to sign a ‘memorandum of understanding’ to establish a public-private platform on trilateral industrial carbon-neutrality. With the goal to foster international collaboration, they will engage with stakeholders from industry, governments, regulators and infrastructure asset owners/operators to contribute both to an alignment of cross-border carbon-neutrality pathways, and to build a foundation for collective action. Furthermore, they will organize an active exchange of – and alignment on – data, assumptions and methodologies to promote standardization, and initiate cross-border projects with a focus on industrial carbon neutrality in the trilateral region.

Key Takeaway

Are you a stakeholder from industry, government, regulator or infrastructure asset owner or operator?

If you are interested in understanding the cross-border implications of industrial carbon neutrality or want to participate in one of our open knowledge exchange and network events, please don’t hesitate to get in touch: the contact persons for each of the main platform partners will be eager to assist you.


  • TNO: HY3+

The Dutch government has funded this HY3+ project, which focusses on cross-border energy transport infrastructure – including hydrogen and CO2 – between the Netherlands, Germany’s North Rhine-Westphalia and Belgium. The project supports infrastructure investment projects that are under development in the Netherlands to retrofit existing or build new energy infrastructure for the transport of hydrogen and CO2. These infrastructures will support industry clusters to decarbonize their plants and facilities. HY3+ is coordinated by TNO and is the successor of HY3 – a collaboration project with FZ Julich and DENA in Germany.

Contact person: Dr. Martijn De Graaff (


The German government has funded several large projects – Leitprojekte – in the area of hydrogen, with a funding period of 4 years, starting April 2021. This TransHyDE project involves more than 60 academic and industrial partners and investigates transport options for green hydrogen. Its subproject – TransHyDE-Sys – is coordinated by DECHEMA and will take a close look at industrial hydrogen demand and the interaction of existing and prospective energy infrastructures in Germany and Europe in order to secure supply and facilitate the industrial transformation towards greenhouse gas neutral processes.

Contact person: Dr. Florian Ausfelder (


The Federal Government of Belgium funded the Energy Transition Fund project TRILATE: TRansport of energy and feedstock to IndustriaL sites for enAbling Transition to climate neutrality. The project started in October 2021 and will run for 4 years. VITO/EnergyVille – in partnership with ULiège, UGent, KULeuven, Elia and Fluxys – will develop models needed to answer the question: “Which investments are needed in energy transport infrastructure to facilitate a cost-effective and reliable transformation towards a future climate neutral energy-intensive industry in Belgium?” The project will zoom in on electricity and molecule transport in the form of H2, CO2 and CH4 – both within Belgium, and cross-border. As such, the consortium will have regular interactions with the industrial advisory board with participants from Port of Antwerp, North Sea Port, Benelux Business Roundtable, European Network of Transmission System Operators for Electricity (ENTSO-E), INEOS, Luminus, Hamon & Cie and 3B-the fiberglass company.

Contact person: Pieter Lodewijks (

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