The transition towards renewable energy and the improvement of energy efficiency in order to meet the European climate goals confronts the Austrian energy-intensive industry with a serious challenge. At the same time, new chances for Austrian technology providers to expand their market share and strengthen the Austrian industrial base open up. NEFI – New Energy for Industry demonstrates the path to full decarbonization until 2025 for manufacturing and energy-intensive industry.


New Energy for Industry (NEFI) is one of three "energy model regions" funded by the Climate and Energy Fund Austria, with the goal of facilitating the decarbonisation of industry through appropriate technology developments in a long-term applied innovation process and consequently contribute a significant share to the energy transition in Austria.

The NEFI innovation network formed around a consortium of the AIT Austrian Institute of Technology, Montanuniversität Leoben, OÖ Energiesparverband and Business Upper Austria brings together wide-ranging expertise in the field of energy research and project implementation. Together with more than 80 partner companies, 5 institutional partners and 14 research institutions, this allows for development of projects in an open innovation process, demonstration of proven technologies and bringing them to market maturity. In subprojects, key technologies for industrial decarbonisation are being developed and demonstrated in collaboration with innovative companies operative in production technology research.

In addition to industrial waste heat utilization and progressive storage technologies like hybrid storage, advancing digitalization is a crucial factor in this respect by creating opportunities to increase the flexibility of the energy system and industrial processes. NEFI key technologies "Made in Austria" offer added value besides strengthening Austria's position on the global market. NEFI follows a systemic approach in which the company is an important part of an integrated energy network. The spectrum of companies participating in NEFI range from large leading companies to innovative SMEs and involves representatives from all sectors, such as the food, mechanical engineering, plastics, cement and steel industries.

The NEFI-innovation fields, to which the individual sub-projects can be assigned, are categorized into three technological and three systemic innovation fields. This categorization reflects NEFI's holistic approach to the development of cross-sectoral industrial energy systems based on renewable energy sources.

Based on an intensive participation of various actors, the innovation process facilitates early identification of future challenges (‘white spots”) for the Austrian industry with respect to a successful decarbonization. The so called white spots are subject to “Project & Open Circles”, where projects that aim to demonstrate new technologies “Made in Austria” as well as innovative solutions are carried out. Herein, the active participation of industry, businesses, general public, politicians, researchers, and consumers is crucial. “Open Circles” are intended to deal with “White Spots” that are promising for future project by carrying out workshops, discussion panels and various events. If research subjects are clearly defined, “Open Circles” can start off “Project Circles” which aim to develop project proposals from further submission stages of the program “Vorzeigeregion Energie”. Thereby, solutions are presented to industrial partners that can lead to the development of new technologies.


Of all the projects, the innovation laboratory NEFI_Lab, headed by the Chair of Energy Network Technology at Montanuniversität Leoben and supported by the provinces of Upper Austria and Styria, is in the front line: here is where the necessary framework requirements for cooperation between Austrian industry, renowned research institutions and the general public will be created by 2025 in order to conduct forward-looking research projects.

In parallel to the developed projects, the Chair of Energy Network Technology is also developing decarbonisation scenarios together with its partner AIT to map the possible strategy for achieving climate targets in the industrial sector.

The NEFI_Lab focuses on four central fields of action as following:


Monitoring & Innovation Management:

The NEFI_Lab allows for participation of all interested parties in the industrial energy transition. It provides a framework for recognizing future challenges in the industrial energy system transformation and turning them into opportunities. Based on intensive dialogs with representatives of Austrian industry, the path to industrial decarbonization will be described using different scenarios.

Technology & Innovation Policies:

The success of industrial decarbonisation is determined considerably by the regulatory framework and the funding incentives. Thus, NEFI_Lab is also committed to this topic.

Participation & Awareness:

NEFI_Lab includes all relevant stakeholders in the innovation process. Representatives from industry, politics, education and research work together towards one goal: the decarbonisation of industry. Take an active part and let our services accompany you along the way.

Physical NEFI_Labs:

The implementation of physical infrastructures in NEFI_Lab facilitates development of technologies and promotes cross-sectoral cooperation. Further tasks are scientific support of subprojects, knowledge transfer within the model region as well as integration of new stakeholders. The Chair of Energy Network Technology is in charge of developing the laboratory "NEFI_Lab to Public".



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Parkstraße 31
A-8700 Leoben