Policy Council 2019

On Friday 14 June 2019, Prospex Institute organised the first Policy Council of the Horizon 2020 SecREEts project in Brussels. This high-level meeting gathered experts and stakeholders from the European Rare Earth market to discuss challenges and trends related to critical supply of Rare Earth Elements in Europe. After and introduction to the industrial applications for Rare Earth and the EU’s perspective on the matter, SecREEts partners were invited to present their role in the project and answer questions from the audience.

In the afternoon, group discussions were organised by Prospex Institute and Quantis with experts in the fields of Life-Cycle Assessment/Costings and Social Licence to Operate in Rare Earth Elements manufacturing and extraction. This peer-learning exercise has led to some intense and fruitful discussions highlighting the importance of cooperation between social acceptance professionals and environmental impact experts to ensure transparency and trust with local communities and society.

A public report of the discussions will soon be available on the official H2020 SecREEts website: www.secreets.eu

SecREEts is one year old!

A year ago, we were in Trondheim, Norway, for the kick-off of the Horizon 2020 SecREEts project. Earlier this week, on 5-6 June, we were celebrating the first birthday of SecREEts with our partners in Verneuil-en-Halatte, where our French partner INERIS is based. A lot has happened in one year, with the SecREEts consortium making good progress towards developing a European value chain for Rare Earth permanent magnets. This meeting allowed all partners to present recent developments. It was also an opportunity to meet with our Advisory Board for the first time and discuss the state of the Rare Earth market in Europe and the business case for SecREEts.

Prospex Institute was able to share the outcomes of the last Citizen Lab in Ellesmere Port, UK, organised with SINTEF and Less Common Metals. We announced the first Norwegian Citizen Lab which will take place in August 2019 in Porsgrunn with our partners Yara, REEtec and SINTEF. In addition, the Consortium Meeting was an opportunity to introduce our partners to the first Policy Council, which will take place next week and where we will meet stakeholders from various sectors involved in the Rare Earth market. The Policy Council will also be an opportunity for Prospex Institute and our SecREEts partner Quantis to engage with European experts on challenges related to Social Licence to Operate and Life Cycle Assessments in the critical raw material sector.

Registrations are open for the first SecREEts Policy Council

The Horizon 2020 SecREEts project is developing a European alternative to chemical separation of Rare Earth Elements and production of permanent magnets. Prospex Institute is organising the first SecREEts Policy Council in Brussels on Friday 14th of June 2019, from 10am to 12.30am followed by a networking lunch. The Policy Council will engage with stakeholders from various sectors to discuss the current state and future of the critical supply of Rare Earth Elements in Europe.

This event will also be an opportunity to meet SecREEts partners and hear more about their work and role in the project. You will be able to learn more about the new Rare Earth Elements manufacturing processes developed in SecREEts, and explore potential areas of collaboration.

The Policy Council will be followed in the afternoon by a discussion on the challenges of Life-Cycle Assemssents/Costings & Social Licence to Operate in the critical raw materials industry, with a smaller group of experts from across Europe.

To register for the Policy Council or the afternoon workshop and to get more information regarding the venue and the agenda, please email Clara Boissenin at clara.boissenin@prospex-institute.org or +32 (0)2 669 5440. Due to the limited number of seats, please note that registrations are compulsory.

This project has received funding from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 Research and Innovation Programme under Grant Agreement No 776559 (SecREEts – www.secreets.eu)

High-level Conference: Local Energy Communities for Businesses April 29th in Ghent, Belgium

Transitioning towards clean energy, as is the ambition at the EU level, is crucial in order to attain a higher degree of equilibrium between our consumption and the planet’s boundaries. In line with this, the EU’s clean energy package is expected to be transposed on the national level soon. In this document, energy production at the local level is perceived crucial to foster renewable energy production. Therefore, one of the ways in which renewable energy production is being tackled is through the creation of local energy communities, both for individuals and businesses alike.

Although very promising, energy communities still face multiple obstacles to their development, especially regarding their legal framework. The high-level conference that took place on April 29th in Ghent and welcomed 150 participants, was aimed at presenting the latest information on the development of LECs particularly for businesses within the EU. The event was co-organized by the following partners: BISEPS, Interreg 2 Seas Mers Zeeën, ROLECS, STORY, Agentschap Innoveren & Ondernemen, Flux50 and Provincie West-Vlaanderen.

The perspective of Flemish LECs and the EU’s vision on LECs were presented, and what needs to addressed in order to make LECs work in Flanders and the EU, who some of the EU frontrunners are (UK, France, Austria) and what the needs of businesses currently are were all topics of lively discussions.

Flanders stated its ambition to become carbon-neutral by 2050, and in that respect local energy communities represent a way to contribute to attaining said goal. The EU is geared towards supporting innovation, but it also supports existing solutions, and raised the points of trend endorsement goals (such as social acceptance, monitoring and reviewing, easy administration), market access and consumer protection. Concerning how to make LECs work, the following points were raised: a business case exists but it should also be realistic and feasible, as energy transition takes time.  Some of the examples brought forth were social acceptance and inclusion, citizen engagement, (smart)digitalization, platforms for the system to function and added value for the specific end-consumer. Regarding the needs of businesses, issues such as regulatory stability, metering tools, data-sharing, risk assessment mitigation and income streams were addressed. 

Prospex Institute is proud to have contributed to this event through the design, moderation and facilitation of the workshops and panel discussion.


A 2050 Vision for Textiles

Imagine this. It is 2050 and you live in Flanders, Belgium. A circular economy. Almost all the textiles you own are not yours to keep: you are renting your t-shirts, your curtains, your winter jacket… You buy a mere 2 kilograms of clothing per year – those items that are most private.

The European market accepts textile products only if they are manufactured in accordance with recyclability legislation. Through a product stewardship scheme, all those involved in the product lifecycle are motivated to contribute to an environmental design and re-design of your clothes and other textile products.

Meanwhile, two streets away from your home, a high-tech factory – a so-called “tex-clinic” – takes back the products you no longer wish to use. At the tex-clinic, circularity professionals will ensure that these materials are either reused or recycled, flowing to a new life and user.

This, in brief, is the vision we developed at TOP-atelier’s backcasting workshop. Our workshop gathered collectors, sorters, local authority representatives, recyclers, technology innovators and sectoral representatives to look ahead and develop the vision of a circular textile system in 2050.

But the aim of the workshop was not to dream and visualise: it was to plan and anticipate. If this is 2050, what does that mean for the new government that will be sworn in this year? Where would Flanders need to be by 2035? What legislative changes would Europe need to enact to make this possible, and by when? And importantly, what can we – project managers, innovators and local authorities – do today to achieve our vision in 2050?

Prospex Institute designed and moderated the backcasting workshop, as part of the Flemish project Top-atelier, financed by Vlaanderen Circulair.


From pilot to scale: Resyntex engages with value chain players

Resyntex has moved into the real-world testing of its technology for the chemical and biotechnical recycling of textile waste, with the construction of a pilot installation in Maribor. This pilot demonstrates the integrated value chain from waste textiles to secondary raw materials. Whilst technical feasibility is proven, now is the time to gain business validation. 

Resyntex gathered key industrial stakeholders at its premises in Maribor, to share results in a transparent manner and to engage with business representatives on the necessary steps to transition from pilot to scale.

Whilst technical feasibility is proven, now is the time to gain business validation. 
Resyntex gathered key industrial stakeholders at its premises in Maribor, to share results in a transparent manner and to engage with business representatives on the necessary steps to transition from pilot to scale.

Together with the Resyntex-team, leading industry players looked critically at the  product-market connections that the project should pursue in the near future, and the role for Life-Cycle Analysis in this decision-making. Insights were shared as to the requirements that Resyntex’ secondary raw materials, such as purified terephthalic acid and dye-free recycled cotton fibres, need to meet in order to fit into current standards for manufacturing, traceability, certification and quality compliance. 

The third and last Value Chain Workshop, organised and moderated by Resyntex-partner Prospex Institute, convened the fibre, fabric, apparel, automotive and chemical industry. Bringing creative minds from industry and research together, the workshop made important strides towards valorising Resyntex’ innovation potential at scale, within industrial supply chains. 

Local Energy Communities – Exploring Research, Technologies and Regulations for their Implementation in Europe

Local energy communities and smart energy systems are key elements to increase the use of renewable energy resources at a local level, helping locations with weak connections to the national grid to maximise their energy independence whilst also reducing carbon emissions.

With the participation of European policy-makers and leading companies of the energy sector, the all-day event will feature the presentation of four H2020 projects (COMPILE, MERLON, MUSE GRIDS AND STORY) that are currently producing research activities on the implementation of local energy communities and the exploitation of smart energy systems.

A panel discussion will tackle the main points needed for the establishment of performing energy islands, considering innovations, integration between different sectors and technologies, and regulations on a international and national level.

In the afternoon, a workshop on energy local communities will take place, giving the opportunity to stakeholders and policy-makers of the energy sector to debate together around different topics: from the most innovative technologies to the impact of Clean Energy for All Europeans package; from the potential replicability of local energy communities around Europe to the business cases needed in the different member states.

Join us for this event, registrations are now open but we only have a limited number of seats available, don’t wait too long!

To access the registration page, please click here.

Increasing Innovation in Forest Ecosystem Services

How can we find the right balance between using our forests and protecting them? Redefining the way we look at our forests and the services they provide us, the SINCERE projects is developing innovating actions that aim at achieving a sustainable balance between using these services while increasing the protection of this ecosystem.

On 28-29 January 2019, the SINCERE consortium and stakeholders from all over Europe attended the Co-Design event in Leuven, Belgium. Organised by Prospex Institute, the Co-Design event brought together stakeholders from the business area, policy-makers, environmental associations and tourism organisations together to exchange with SINCERE partners on the design of the Case Studies and their challenges.

The two days event allowed for fruitful discussions between all participants, each using their professional expertise to provide key inputs to the SINCERE partners. The interactive design of the event allowed for harvesting important comments and suggestions from stakeholders that will be taken onboard by SINCERE partners in their work. 

Facilitating the Process of Establishing a Flemish Energy Community

A recurring issue we keep hearing about regards the corrosive effect that our collective ecological footprint has on our planet. This all has to do with how our way of living lacks a focus on recycling/upcycling the products we consume and sustainability as a whole. The term ‘circular economy’ has thus in this respect been gaining traction around the globe – it sets forth the model for an economy that simultaneously respects our society’s needs and the planet’s boundaries.

Transitioning to a circular economy is becoming a priority and it has recently become one of the aims of the European Union. Within this framework, steps are being taken to transition towards a more sustainable way of living. Such an example is making our energy-use more circular and renewable. Projects are being funded and developed to test distinct types of solutions that could be implemented across multiple levels (individual, regional, national and European).

STORY: a European project demonstrating and evaluating innovative approaches for energy storage systems in residential and industrial environments, with a specific focus on their benefits in distribution systems aims at doing just that. This 5-year project started in May 2015, brings together 18 partners from 8 European countries and involves 6 demonstrations in 4 countries. Oud-Heverlee is one of the residential demonstrators – it is set at the individual level which thereby allows locals to take on a pioneering role in how the (circular) future of energy consumption could look like.

The project’s implementation and success are dependent on the involvement of the Oud-Heverlee residents themselves. Bringing them together as a community and enabling them to take on a role of co-creators is key. To facilitate this, STORY along with the projects MUSE GRIDS, Interconnect and Rolecs, organised a workshop with the residents of Oud-Heverlee on March 14th, aimed at exposing residents to what these energy projects mean, what an ‘energy community’ is, how they can become such a community, what it would entail for them, and what their participation in the project would look like. The residents displayed positive reactions and remained open to continuing on the path towards transforming Oud-Heverlee into an energy community. 

Public talk with Dirk Tieleman

Facilitating dialogue between stakeholders and empowering citizens to have their say in decision-making processes is a key mission for Prospex Institute. On 18 February 2018, we invited Mr Dirk Tieleman, Belgian journalist specialised in the Middle East, for a public talk about his experience in the region and recent evolutions regarding citizens’ participation in civic life.

In an informal setting, Mr Tieleman briefly presented his understanding of the contemporary history of the region based on his own experience as a journalist, to set the basis for an informed discussion on the contrasted situation in the area and the role of citizen engagement in future socio-political developments of the region. The talk was then followed by a session of questions where participants reflected on the state of peacebuilding and democracy in the Middle-East.

Among the many questions that came up, the participants tried to understand the reasons that had led citizens to the streets during the Arab spring in 2011. Participants also attempted to put the regional unrest in context, discussing the role of European countries in the crisis. Finally, the discussion focused on how citizens’ participation could transform the political and social landscape in the coming years.