Net-Zero Industries Award 2023 presented to Professor Mercedes Maroto-Valer at COP28 for innovation in industrial decarbonisation.

Prof Mercedes Maroto-Valer has received the First Global Net-Zero Industries Award – Female Innovators by Mission Innovation Net-Zero Industries (MI NZI), in recognition of her outstanding contributions to industrial decarbonisation on the global stage.

Mission Innovation Net-Zero Industries has established the Award as a “celebration of the trailblazers spearheading this transformation and the winners are not just recipients of a prize; they stand as pillars of inspiration”.

The Award Ceremony was held in the Australian Pavilion in the Blue Zone at COP28 on Friday 8th December and was chaired by Elvira Lutter (MI NZI Director) and Alan Monaghan (Global Mission Coordinator). Leonore Gewessler (Austrian Minister for Climate Action, Environment, Energy, Mobility, Innovation and Technology) and Chris Bowen MP (Australian Minister for Climate Change and Energy) presented the Award.

Julie Cerqueira (Chair of Mission Innovation and Deputy Assistant Secretary, Office of International Affairs, U.S. Department of Energy) closed off the event, which marks a significant milestone in the ongoing efforts to revolutionise energy-intensive industries and drive substantial reductions in greenhouse gas emissions.

Receiving nearly 70 submissions spanning 16 countries, the inaugural Net-Zero Industries Award has highlighted how the global community is actively engaging in the critical mission of decarbonising industry and is a testament to the collaborative spirit required between industry and research to address the challenges of climate change.

As Director and Champion of IDRIC (UK Industrial Decarbonisation Research and Innovation Centre), Prof Maroto-Valer leads a multi-disciplinary programme which is accelerating the crucial innovation required to decarbonise energy-intensive industries.  The award recognises Prof Maroto-Valer’s dedication to pioneering innovation in decarbonising energy-intensive industries, breaking silos obstructing innovation and creating an integrated ecosystem of academia, industry, and policymakers.  During her distinguished career, Prof Maroto-Valer has published over 600 publications  in a number of areas including energy systems, carbon capture utilisation and storage, integration of hydrogen technologies and sustainable aviation fuels. She has led numerous research and innovation programmes to accelerate the deployment of technologies for the industrial transition. Her efforts and groundbreaking achievements continue to inspire and pave the way for a sustainable, net-zero future.

The Award also recognises Prof Maroto-Valer as an inspiring example for a successful career in research and innovation, and also her commitment to equality, diversity and inclusion. The Award Jury highlighted “her role creating equal opportunities and laying the foundation for the best talent to work on the decarbonisation of industry.”

Her influence extends to international policy circles, where she plays a crucial role in spearheading technological diplomacy for the energy transition which includes membership of the Council of Engineers for the Energy Transition advising to the United Nations Secretary-General.

The Award winners were announced in three categories: Outstanding Projects; Female Innovators and Young Talents.

Chris Bowen MP, Australian Minister for Climate Change and Energy, said: ‘Huge congratulations to the winners of the 2023 Net-Zero Industries Award, whose work has the potential to reshape industries and set new benchmarks for sustainability. Your efforts are leading the way to deliver significant emissions reductions at the lowest possible cost, and I look forward to seeing your projects, initiatives and research become part of the drive towards a decarbonised global economy.’

Leonore Gewessler, Austrian Minister for Climate Action, Environment, Energy, Mobility, Innovation and Technology, said: “Our journey towards decarbonising industry needs female innovators and young talents. Their perspectives, innovative ideas, and relentless drive are the catalysts for change. Congratulations to all the award winners – you not only represent role models but also lead by example, inspiring innovations that pave the way for a climate neutral future.”

Prof Maroto-Valer said: “This award is a global testament to an outstanding team and fantastic collaborators. I am honoured to work with them to co-create solutions to bring pace and scale to industrial decarbonisation. Sustainable energy intensive industries are key for equitable net zero prosperity, and I would like to thank The Mission Innovation Net-Zero Industries for their leadership in this critical area and also for establishing this global competition. Our most impactful legacy is not just that of our research and innovation, but also the talented innovators we have nurtured. Therefore, I am delighted that this award also recognises our work on inspiring women and promoting their critical role in the energy transition.”

About Net-Zero Industries Mission and Mission Innovation:

The Net-Zero Industries Mission launched in 2022 and is the first ever global innovation coalition with the goal of developing and demonstrating cost-competitive solutions to create a net-zero industries future. The Mission is led by Austria and Australia, in collaboration with Canada, China, the European Commission, Finland, Germany, the Republic of Korea the UK and the USA, and will deliver at least 50 large-scale demonstration projects around the world by 2030.

More information about the award is available here.

About IDRIC:

IDRIC was launched in 2021 to accelerate research and innovation in industrial decarbonisation. It is currently collaborating with over 200 partners and stakeholders including academic institutions, industry, community representatives and policymakers to address urgent innovation needs – realising goals with impact and integrating knowledge across disciplines and sectors. Key stakeholders in industry, academia, policymakers, local government, NGOs, trade organisations, and skills boards were involved both in the scoping of IDRIC’s funding calls to establish research needs as well as the selection process itself. IDRIC’s ambition is realising goals with impact and sharing and integrating knowledge across disciplines and sectors.

More information is available here.