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Enterprise & Industry Magazine

Projects for sustainable and competitive industry

All rights reserved © Karl Dolenc

The Sustainable Industry Low Carbon Initiative, or SILC, helps European energy-intensive manufacturing industries fuse economic and environmental goals by capitalising on greenhouse gas emission efficiency. As an EU grant scheme, SILC promotes the development of innovative measures to reduce carbon intensity and to create new markets and jobs. The objective is to ensure Europe’s industrial competitiveness whilst combating climate change.

The pricing of carbon emissions and swelling natural resource prices make the Sustainable Industry Low Carbon initiative (SILC) a golden opportunity to increase efficiency. The SILC scheme not only helps the environment but also puts European industries on the inside track in the race to create sustainable growth.

‘There will be no sustainability without competitiveness,’ said European Commission Vice-President Antonio Tajani, when presenting the 'Integrated industrial policy for the globalisation era', ‘and there will be no long-lasting competitiveness without sustainability. And there will be none of them without a quantum leap in innovation.’

Combining these goals ensures that European industries are competitive within and outside the European Union, simultaneously easing the global environmental impact of industries.

Fostering competitiveness and innovation

The SILC initiative actively contributes to the objectives of the ‘Europe 2020’ growth strategy and its Industrial policy flagship initiative. It aims at creating prosperity whilst avoiding any adverse impact on the environment.

By choosing a two-step implementation mode for the SILC initiative, EU industries have the possibility to kick-start the most urgent actions nearly immediately (SILC I), whilst at the same time disposing of a perspective for necessary innovation measures which require longer development and lead times (SILC II).

Under SILC, innovation measures will be developed by consortia of industrial stakeholders. The EU will shoulder up to 75% of the financial costs, thereby easing the strain of implementing and cultivating exploration for increased efficiency.

With its focus on fostering competitiveness and innovation, the SILC initiative must be seen in close relation to the EU Emissions Trading System, or EU ETS. As a cornerstone of the EU’s policies to combat climate change, the EU ETS builds upon a ‘cap and trade’ mechanism and creates incentives for energy-intensive industries to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. In this sense, the EU ETS rewards the deployment of innovative measures developed under SILC. These help to alleviate industries’ economic burdens while simultaneously creating new markets. Moreover, SILC comes at a time of rising production costs and increased degradation of the environment, making sustainable investments in the future imperative.

Call for innovative projects

Under the current 2012 SILC I call, proposals can be submitted to the European Commission until 25 June 2012. This call and the forthcoming 2013 call deal with innovation measures which can be implemented in the short term for reducing the carbon-intensity in industrial installations and which typically do not require a long demonstration programme prior to their execution.

Innovation measures can be of technological nature (such as waste heat recovery systems, alternative fuels, abatement techniques) or non-technological nature (such as mapping of options for process improvements and tapping into alternative forms of finance for greenhouse gases reduction measures).

Any relevant documents and instructions for the submission of a proposal under SILC are available at the European Commission website.

The next phase, SILC II, scheduled to run from 2014 to 2020, is designed to advance potential breakthroughs which require long-term validation prior to implementation.

All together, the two phases of the SILC initiative will help improve short- and long-term competitiveness of EU industries while shifting the world in the right direction on climate change. These will drive industrial changes that accelerate productivity and exploit the business opportunities that result from the transition to a more sustainable, resource efficient and low carbon economy.

SMEs benefit from SILC

It’s not just big companies that will benefit from SILC. Small and medium-sized enterprises, or SMEs, stand to gain as well.

According to recent Eurobarometer data, SMEs struggle more to comply with environmental legislation than large companies. The survey cites lack of expertise, lengthy approval procedures for new products and lack of consumer demand as primary roadblocks obstructing green patterns for SMEs.

SILC contributes to offsetting these problems by funding and facilitating innovations which therefore benefit particularly to SMEs. As a matter of fact, SMEs will profit not only from implementing new resource-efficient technologies, but also from designing and manufacturing greener products demanded by the markets.

In this context, it is worthwhile recalling the importance of SMEs for the EU's economy. Indeed, there are some 23 million SMEs in the EU, representing 99% of all businesses. Their vitality is essential to Europe 2020 and the EU’s plans for sustainable growth.


'Sustainable Industrial Policy'
Directorate-General for Enterprise and Industry

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