industrial energy

Manufacturing industry accounts for about one third of total energy use worldwide. Roughly three quarters of industrial energy use is related to the production of energy-intensive commodities such as ferrous and non-ferrous metals, chemicals and petrochemicals, non-metallic mineral materials, and pulp and paper. In these sectors, energy costs constitute a large proportion of total production costs, so managers pay particular attention to driving them down. As a result, the scope to improve energy efficiency tends to be less in these most energy intensive sectors than in those sectors where energy costs form a smaller proportion of total costs, such as the buildings and transportation sectors. This limits the overall potential for carbon dioxide (CO2)reductions through energy efficiency measures in industry to 15% - 30% on average.

Industrial production is projected to increase by a factor of four between now and 2050. In the absence of a strong contribution from energy efficiency improvements, renewable energy and CO2 capture and storage (CCS) will need to make a significant impact if industry is substantially to reduce its consequent greenhouse-gas (GHG) emissions.

Although renewable energy has received a good deal of attention for power generation and for residential applications, its use in industry has attracted much less attention. Renewable energy plays only a relatively small role in industry today. Biomass currently makes by far the most significant renewable energy contribution to industry, providing around 8% of its final energy use in 2007.

The present analysis of the long-term potential for renewable energy in industrial applications suggests that up to 21% of all final energy use and feedstock in manufacturing industry in 2050 can be of renewable origin.

Renewable energy can be widely applied in industrial applications. The four options primarily discussed in this report are:

Biomass for process heat: Biomass is the most widely used renewable energy source both generally and in industry. Biomass availability and use is strongly dependent on regional conditions.


Biomass for petrochemical feedstocks:Carbon is also needed for the production of materials in the petrochemical sector, where it comprises around 75% of the total feedstock.


Solar thermal systems for process heat:Unlike biomass, where resource availability may limit the potential and raise sustainability concerns, solar has an almost unlimited resource potential..


Heat pumps for process heat:Heat pumps can take heat from the environment or from waste heat streams and supply it to industrial applications without the need to burn any fuel..


Several other options may also become relevant in the time horizon of this study. But these are unlikely to make anything more than a niche contribution and they are accordingly not discussed in any detail in this report. They include:

Conventional geothermal heat: This is highly location dependent. Transporting heat over long distances is costly, leads to large losses and feasible in only a few specific conditions.1 For industrial process heat, the industrial plant must be located very close to the geothermal reservoir. This is unlikely to be possible in any but a few highly specialised applications

Enhanced geothermal systems may make a contribution in the long run, subject to the resolution of technology issues;

The use of run-of-river hydro for motive power, of the kind that has been used for centuries for grinding mills; and

The use of wind for motive power, for example by driving air compressors enabling the storage of energy in the form of compressed air.

In combined heat and power (CHP) plants, the waste heat from biomass electricity generation can be used very effectively in industrial applications. Electricity generation is not covered in this paper, so CHP electricity and heat is not included in the analysis.


The Innovator

Gurmit Singh, New Delhi

Dr. Gurmit Singh is a research scientist and an environmentalist, his profound enthusiasm and passion for renewable energy technologies has been for 28 years now. He holds both his Bachelors and Masters degrees from 'Rheinisch-Westfalische Technische Hochschule Aachen.' In Germany and spent 14 years in Germany working as a research Scientist and then 8 years in Florida, USA in Solar Research. He is winner of 'Lockheed Martin Innovation Award 2008' in renewable energy, also won the '2010 BuildArch Award'and recently won the 'i3 India Innovates Award 2011'. His professional career started with a technology assessment of the carbon abatement potential of specific industrial technologies in the EU, and the evaluation of national and international policies and measures in the areas of climate change, energy efficiency and renewable energy. Currently he is a Visiting Faculty for 'Renewable Energy' at Amity University, Noida