Decarbonisation Scenarios

NEFI Decarbonization Scenarios

The NEFI decarbonization scenarios provide ideas as to where projects should be placed in the Austrian industrial landscape and which strategies and measures could be taken to decarbonize the industrial energy system.
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Study transform.industry

In the transform.industry project, realistic, scenario-based transformation paths for the climate neutrality of Austrian industry in 2040 were developed and innovation policy recommendations for action were derived.
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Schematic representation of the decarbonisation scenarios

„Business-As-Usual“ (BAU)

The business as usual (BAU) scenario extrapolates the current trends and technologies in the period under review up to 2050. These are then used to determine the carbon emissions and total industrial energy demand within each sector. Find out more >

„Pathway of Industry“ (POI)

The POI scenario is the result of close dialogue with representatives from leading companies in the industrial subsectors and is a regularly updated self-assessment of the industry through to 2030. Development through to 2050 is extrapolated based on the best available technologies and breakthrough technologies available over the short and medium term. The industry’s perspective, as modelled in the POI scenario, makes it possible to identify and quantify every techno-economic and regulatory hurdle to achieving the desired decarbonisation route (ZEM scenario). These obstacles must be overcome to realise the industrial energy transition in Austria. Find out more >

„Zero Emissions“ (ZEM)

The ZEM scenario presents a pathway of wide-ranging and ambitious measures to make Austria’s industrial energy system completely climate neutral by 2050. Backcasting is used to identify a possible transformation pathway for Austrian industry and includes not only technological but also socio-economic and infrastructural parameters. Find out more >


Taking the BAU scenario as a starting point, the POI pursued by industry is compared to the normative ZEM scenario (in 2050).

The comparison is based on production technologies in the respective industrial sectors and four technological levers:
- Use and availability of renewable gases
- Electrification and energy efficiency
- Carbon capture
- Circular economy

Business as usual

BAU serves as a reference scenario and is based on the assumption that historic trends and economic development forecasts will continue unchanged.

Pathway of industry

The POI scenario models current transformation plans announced by leading industrial stakeholders for the period up to 2030 under current and foreseeable conditions, and extrapolated to 2050.

Zero Emissions

The ZEM scenario is a normative pathway which adopts wide-ranging and ambitious measures to achieve a completely climate-neutral Austrian industrial energy system by 2050.

Comparison of the results

The three scenarios examine future energy demand assuming continued industrial development. The POI and ZEM transformation scenarios are similar in sharing the substitution of energy sources and the use of heat pumps.

Both transformation scenarios calculate a biomass demand of between 35 and 40 TWh, while the extrapolated trend in the BAU scenario reaches around 21 TWh/a.

Both POI and ZEM scenarios require around 50 TWh of electricity for final energy applications to achieve industrial climate neutrality. Alongside general efforts towards electrification, such as the use of heat pumps, the demand for electricity is driven above all by the conversion of production routes in emissions-intensive sectors such as iron and steel production, where the introduction of electric arc furnaces and carbon capture facilities accounts for a significant final electricity demand. When considering the possible additional electricity demand for hydrogen production via electrolysis, total electricity demand for industrial production in Austria rises to around 116 TWh/a.

In both the POI and ZEM scenarios the chemical and petrochemical sector serves as a vital carbon sink for reducing the remaining greenhouse gas emissions produced by Austria’s manufacturing industry, with the sink for hard-to-abate CO₂ from the non-metallic minerals sector playing a key role. In total, up to 5 Mt CO₂ net will be absorbed by the chemical and petrochemical sector.

In the gas sector, the POI and ZEM scenarios apply a different technology focus: in POI the industry stakeholders rely more strongly on methane and biomass-based technologies, while the ZEM results focus on hydrogen-based technologies.

Conclusions and recommended actions

  • The most significant lever for achieving climate neutrality in Austrian industry is the availability of affordable renewable electricity and gas.

  • Specific, coordinated concepts are needed to implement and scale up the available green technologies.

  • Research, development and demonstration are key to rapidly implementing new technologies in industry. Efforts in these areas must be intensified and accelerated.

  • Domestic energy generation from renewable sources must be increased for the scenarios under consideration, over and above the targets set for 2030.

  • Import strategies must be developed, especially for carbon-neutral gases and their derivatives.

  • Energy infrastructure is essential to achieve climate neutrality. This includes sufficient electricity and gas network capacities (including hydrogen and its derivatives) for both national and cross-border transport.

Identified ‘no regret’ technologies:

  • Improved energy efficiency and low emission electrification

  • Switching fuels to carbon-neutral gases or biomass

  • Carbon capture technologies (CCU/S)

  • Greater use of the circular economy to increase material efficiency