Carbon flows take central stage with the new Carbon Transition Model


Fundamental changes and radical transitions are crucial to achieve the CO2 emissions reduction targets. That is why our new project puts carbon flows at the center stage. In the project a prototype of the Carbon Transition Model (CTM) is built that should allow the user to explore not only what emission reduction options exists, but also understand how they interact and see their impact on the greater Dutch industrial system. The consortium aspires to contribute to the acceleration of the deployment of new circular carbon value chains in the Netherlands. It also will reduce uncertainties that come with the transition to a circular, carbon-neutral future.

The fossil intensive industry is an important pillar of the Dutch economy. It is in this crucial sector where the energy transition and the transition to a circular economy need to happen. These two transitions are interlocked and will fundamentally change the economic logic and logistical interconnectedness of the industry. They will disrupt and reorganize current value chains.

Creating a larger perspective

Currently, companies and industry clusters individually develop strategic plans on how they could reduce carbon emissions. Most of these plans have included a limited scope and focus on a small part of a large industrial system. However, it is crucial to put the plans and specific technology development in the perspective of a large, interconnected and clustered industrial system by assessing these plans and developments for their impact on national, regional and global physical flows of carbon.

For that purpose, an integral Carbon Transition Model (CTM) is being built that connects to the need for shared understanding of the associated constraints, dependencies and opportunities of the dual transition. Only in such a system-in-transition context we can get a better grip on what emissions are produced and how they can be reduced.

Joint effort

The development of CTM will be a joint effort with input from universities, knowledge institutes, consultants, civil society organizations and industry. Together they will define transition pathways that need to be taken into account in the prototype of the CTM. Data will be collected with regards to historic emissions and energy, feedstock and product flows. These data will be integrated in the CTM that will allow the user to change the historic base year with existing production processes into a future year where new innovative pathways have been introduced. For every change the user makes, the model will provide instant feedback on key parameters such as emissions, volumes and costs.

Shared insights and learnings

The fundamental element of the project is organizing interactive sessions where all stakeholders are present and that generate new and shared insights. Once the various partners involved simultaneously bring in their individual plans and transition options, the accumulated effect in terms of emissions, volumes and costs for the entire industrial system becomes visible. This also results in extended learnings in relation to their own position. It provides insights on constraints, required boundary conditions and technology development gaps.

By the end of the summer the first prototype will be finalized. Eventually, the project’s ambition is to develop the prototype into a free online tool that is accessible for everybody.

Read more about the Carbon Transition Model.