Startup challenge: Emission-free industrial heat challenge

Norwegian heat pump HighLift wins Start-up Challenge for decarbonisation of industrial processes through clean energy integration

Iberdrola has selected Olvondo Technology as the winner of the Start-up Challenge Emission-free Industrial Heat, part of the European Innovation Council's Energy4Planet initiative. The multinational thus begins a collaboration with the Norwegian start-up to test the scalability and competitiveness of its technology to improve energy efficiency in industrial processes.

The winner will sign a collaboration agreement and be able to try out their project.

Iberdrola is looking to help these industries on their energy transition, searching for ad-hoc solutions for factories to improve the efficiency of the energy used while reducing CO2 emissions in a sustainable and cost-effective manner. That is why in 2021 it is launching the Start-up Challenge Industrial heat without emissions, which seeks innovative solutions to boost the decarbonisation of industrial processes through design automation and the integration of clean technologies and energy efficiency measures.

"Olvondo Technology's HighLift heat pump is one of the few high-temperature heat pump technologies we have found with real use cases offering temperatures above 150°C," says Sergio Platon Martinez, from Iberdrola's Innovation and Sustainability team. "We are convinced that solutions like the Olvondo technology will help decarbonise process heating in various industries”. 

Olvondo's innovative high-temperature heat pump, called HighLift, is the only one that converts waste heat into steam of up to 200 degrees. "This reduces the industry's fossil fuel consumption, with associated reductions in both CO2 emissions and energy costs," explains Stefano Vittor, CEO of Olvondo Technology.

In one of Olvondo's pilot plants, he explains, "emissions were reduced by more than 60 %, while energy costs were reduced by 30 %. This makes HighLift technology a concrete and potentially scalable solution for the industry to cost-effectively move towards the minimum target of 32 % renewable energy by 2030, set by the European Parliament and the Council in the Renewable Energy Directive. 

Reasons for this challenge

Electricity is fundamental to the decarbonisation of energy use through renewable energy to create a sustainable and efficient energy framework. It is also the energy vector that allows a greater contribution from clean energy sources, whilst at the same time dramatically improving the overall efficiency of the energy system.

Nonetheless, electricity is nowadays mainly used for power generation, only making around 20 % of global energy demand. The reason behind lies on high reliance levels in fossil fuels in sectors outside of power, such as transportation, buildings and industry, constituting the so called hard-to-abate sectors.

Industrial heat could benefit from a greater use of electricity for the low and medium temperature processes, through the application of heat pumps in combination with energy efficiency measures, while high-temperature processes could aim at electrification combined with fuel-switching to diminish their associated emissions.

 Automation project design for decarbonization of industrial processes using software tools.

 Hybridization of clean technologies, for example: heat pumps, electric furnaces, energy efficiency measures, green hydrogen or self-consumption by distributed renewable energy.

 Energy Consumption and Savings simulations.

 Project finance calculations based on project CAPEX and OPEX inputs: Investment Rate of Return (IRR), Net Present Value (NPV) and Payback Periods (PB).

The prize

The prize for Olvondo Technology consists of us signing a collaboration agreement for the development of a proof-of-concept with PERSEO or with any other relevant Iberdrola group company, who will assume the costs and provide the winner with the necessary technical support, giving access to infrastructures and real data to test the solution. Thus, the project presented to the challenge will be developed in collaboration with technical specialists from Iberdrola's Industrial Heating and Cooling area.

If the proof-of-concept is satisfactory, Iberdrola may offer the Norwegian start-up the opportunity to scale up the solution by means of commercial agreements. In addition, Perseo may consider investing in the company and/or in the winning solution of the challenge.

10/02/2021 Public launch of the challenge
07/03/2021 Deadline for receiving proposals
March 2022 Announcement of the winner


The major energy transition challenges of the Green Deal and the associated ambitious goals will need close collaboration across value chains. It will also require concrete pilots with the best startups, knowledgeable corporates and technology institutes that the European ecosystem has to offer.

On that account, the European Innovation Council External link, opens in new window. (EIC) launched Energy4Planet initiative in 2021 as part of the EIC Corporate Programme, developed on the back of the success of the EIC External link, opens in new window.. Olvondo’s HighLift technology was named winner  in the Industrial Heat category of Energy4Planet.

With the Energy4Planet initiative, the EIC Business Acceleration Services once again offers the opportunity to enhance the cooperation with large corporates and co-create innovative solutions to a number of challenges in the field of energy transition.

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