A.SPIRE is the EU association that manages the Processes4Planet program that is to ‘transform the EU process industries to achieve circularity and overall climate neutrality by 2050’ while ‘enhancing their global competitiveness’. P4Planet is a public-private partnership between A.SPIRE and the EU Commission’s Horizon Europe R&D program. P4Planet sets out to promote a ‘holistic systemic socio-economic approach!’ A.Spire membership includes EPRA, the EU petroleum refiners Association and CEFIC, the EU chemical industry council. A.Spire is firmly anchored in the climate neutrality and foresees a ‘massive disruption’ in the energy sector itself and in process industries in general as they seek to make optimal use of alternative energy resources and feedstocks and contribute to the transition’.
While the fossil fuel business is excluded from A.Spire’s deliberations, the ‘green deal’ movement is billed as a game changer for Europe’s process industries and its conclusions may ricochet around oil and gas processes at some juncture in the future.
Such deliberations are set out in A.Spire’s 260 page ‘Strategic Research and Innovation Agenda’. This ranges widely across multiple industries and objectives. In the field of digitalization, A.Spire is setting out to ‘solve the industrial big data problem as a basis to develop the cognitive digital plant by 2050’. Leveraging the ‘huge amount of largely incomprehensible data’ amassed to date will require the development of ‘hard and soft solutions based on new computing techniques’. ‘Process control, production scheduling, material allocation and maintenance actions can be improved by new computing techniques’. Along with the entreaties to leverage ‘modelling technologies and artificial intelligence methods like machine learning techniques … especially reinforcement learning’. Cognitive tools will be driven by reliable process analytical technologies and will make use of the process data, providing high level supervisory control while supporting the process operators and plant engineers.
The Agenda name checks another EU favorite, blockchain technologies,
used to ‘track and trace component parts’, and to ‘secure the
A.Spire ‘successes’, a.k.a. first-of-a-kind large scale application of one or more new technologies, are curiously dubbed ‘marbles’. An initial set of marbles already covers the overall set of innovation areas and programs defined in the 2050 Agenda, ‘showing the coherence of the P4Planet approach with industry priorities’. Whether or not the P4P will succeed is moot. In the meanwhile however the vast scope of the Agenda will opens up the doors for another round/boondoggle of taxpayer largesse (more than €35 billion) directed at the startups, universities and consulting folks (who, by the way, write the Agenda and will later on mark their own homework) that make up the EU Horizon R&D ecosystem. Apply here.
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