Electrification of Industry: Potential, Challenges and Outlook
- 37 Downloads
Purpose of the Review
Industry is one of the most difficult sectors to decarbonize. With the rapidly falling cost of solar PV, wind power, and battery storage, industry electrification coupled with renewable electricity supply has the potential to be a key pathway to achieve industry decarbonization. This paper summarizes the latest research on the possibility of electrification of the industry sector.
The transition to industry electrification would entail major changes in the energy system: large scale increases in renewable electricity or nuclear power supplies, the expansion of electricity transmission and distribution networks, completely different end-use technologies for process heating, and new infrastructure for distributing and dispensing hydrogen. Thus, aggressive and sustained supportive policies and much wider research, development, demonstration, and deployment activities are required to meet net zero carbon emissions goals in the industrial sector.
Existing economically competitive electrified industrial processes (such as electric arc furnaces for secondary steelmaking from scrap steel), coupled with zero-carbon electricity sources can sharply reduce greenhouse gas emissions (GHG) compared to manufacturing processes that rely on fossil fuels. Fuel switching in industry from fossil fuel–based process heating to electrified heat can offer many product and productivity benefits, but operating costs in general are much higher than fossil fuel-based heating. Either much lower costs of electricity and energy storage are required and/or new, cost-competitive electric-technology applications are needed to enable further electrification of industry. Indirect electrification i.e., hydrogen production via water electrolysis is another complimentary technology reliant on electricity. Hydrogen can be used as an energy carrier, industrial feedstock for products and fuels, or for long-duration energy storage, and thus can also play a key role in industry decarbonization when the hydrogen is produced from zero-carbon electricity and/or with carbon capture and storage. As with direct electrification, cost is the key barrier for the deployment of hydrogen resources.
KeywordsIndustry electrification Indirect electrification Industry decarbonization Hydrogen Water electrolysis Synthetic natural gas Renewable heating Electro-winning
Compliance with Ethical Standards
Conflict of Interest
Max Wei, Colin A. McMillan, and Stephane de la Rue du Can declare that they have no conflict of interest.
Human and Animal Rights and Informed Consent
This article does not contain any studies with humans or animal subjects performed by any of the authors.
Papers of particular interest, published recently, have been highlighted as: • Of importance •• Of major importance
- 1.IEA. World energy balances. 2019th ed; 2019.Google Scholar
- 2.Fridley D, Lu H, Khanna N. Key China energy statistics 2014. 2014.Google Scholar
- 5.Orfeuil M. Electric process heating: technologies/equipment/applications. Columbus: Battelle Press; 1987.Google Scholar
- 6.de la Rue du Can S, Price L, Zhou N, Phadke A. China and India: energy service and related material demand projections. 38th Int. Energy Work. June 3–5, 2019, Paris, Fr. 2019.Google Scholar
- 7.U.S. EIA. Manufacturing energy consumption survey 2014. Washington; 2017.Google Scholar
- 8.U.S. DOE. Quadrennial technology review 2015. Washington, D.C.; 2015.Google Scholar
- 11.• IEA. The future of hydrogen: seizing today’s opportunities. 203. 2019. This paper provides a comprehensive overview of hydrogen including discussion of generation approaches, storage, distribution and transmission, present and potential industrial uses of hydrogen, and supportive policies. Google Scholar
- 12.• Philibert C. Direct and indirect electrification of industry and beyond. Oxf Rev Econ Policy. 2019;35:197–217 This paper provides a summary of technology options for industry sectors with high process temperatures and a good summary of policy considerations at the international level. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
- 14.Deason J, Wei M, Leventis G, Smith S, Schwartz L. Electrification of buildings and industry in the United States. Drivers, barriers, prospects, and policy approaches. 2018.Google Scholar
- 15.Vairamohan B. Energy savings with induction heating overview, applications and case studies. 2014.Google Scholar
- 16.(EFI) EFI. Pathways for California decarbonization - optionality, flexibility & innovation. 2019.Google Scholar
- 17.Pérez-Aparicio E, Lillo-Bravo I, Moreno-Tejera S, Silva-Pérez M. Economical and environmental analysis of thermal and photovoltaic solar energy as source of heat for industrial processes. In: AIP Conf. Proc. AIP Publishing, 2017. p 180005Google Scholar
- 18.• Meyers S, Schmitt B, Vajen K. Renewable process heat from solar thermal and photovoltaics: the development and application of a universal methodology to determine the more economical technology. Appl Energy. 2018;212:1537–52 This paper develops a parameterized approach that enables streamlined comparisons of solar thermal and PV technologies to provide industry process heat. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
- 21.Dorreen M, Wright L, Matthews G, Patel P, Wong DS. Transforming the way electricity is consumed during the aluminium smelting process. In: Zhang L, Drelich JW, Neelameggham NR, et al., editors. Energy Technol: Springer International Publishing; 2017. p. 15–25.Google Scholar
- 23.White House. United States Mid-Century Strategy for deep decarbonization. Washington, D.C; 2016.Google Scholar
- 24.Chan Y, Petithuguenin L, Fleiter T, Herbst A, Arens M, Stevenson P. Industrial innovation: pathways to deep decarbonisation of industry. Part 1: technology analysis. London: ICF Consulting Services Limited and Fraunhofer ISI; 2019.Google Scholar
- 25.Fleiter T, Herbst A, Rehfeldt M, Arens M. Industrial innovation: pathways to deep decarbonisation of industry. Part 2: scenario analysis and pathways to deep decarbonisation. London: ICF Consulting Services Limited and Fraunhofer Institute for Systems and Innovation Research (ISI); 2019.Google Scholar
- 26.Electric Power Research Institute (EPRI). U.S. national electrification assessment. Palo Alto: Electric Power Research Institute (EPRI); 2018.Google Scholar
- 27.•• Lechtenböhmer S, Nilsson LJ, Åhman M, Schneider C. Decarbonising the energy intensive basic materials industry through electrification – Implications for future EU electricity demand. Energy. 2016;115:1623–31 This paper establishes the magnitude of effort required to electrify the most energy-intensive industrial sectors, along with the associated barriers and challenges. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
- 29.Material Economics. Industrial Transformation 2050. 2019.Google Scholar
- 30.Khanna NZ, Zhou N, Fridley D. China’s trajectories beyond efficiency: CO2 implications of maximizing electrification and renewable resources through 2050. In: ECEEE summer study. 2014. pp 69–79Google Scholar
- 31.• Palm E, Nilsson LJ, Åhman M. Electricity-based plastics and their potential demand for electricity and carbon dioxide. J Clean Prod. 2016;129:548–55 This paper examines the additional challenges of addressing feedstock energy use under electrification and carbon dioxide emissions reductions. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
- 32.VoltaChem. Empowering the chemical industry - opportunities for electrification. 2016.Google Scholar
- 33.Steel Recycling Institute Steel is the world’s most recycled material | SRI - Steel Recycling Institute. https://www.steelsustainability.org/recycling. Accessed 15 Jul 2019.
- 34.Bureau of International Recycling. World steel recycling in figures 2012 – 2016 steel scrap – a raw material for steelmaking. Brussels; 2017.Google Scholar
- 38.Siderwin. https://www.siderwin-spire.eu/. Accessed 10 Aug 2019
- 39.Lavelaine de Maubeuge H, Van der Laan S, Hita A, Olsen K, Serna M, Martin Haarberg G, Frade J. Iron production by electrochemical reduction of its oxide for high CO2 mitigation. European Union. 2016.Google Scholar
- 40.Reints R. Bill Gates-led venture capital fund invests in carbon-free steel manufacturing. Fortune Mag. 2019.Google Scholar
- 41.World Steel Institute. Steel statistical yearbook 2018. 2019.Google Scholar
- 42.• Vogl V, Åhman M, Nilsson LJ. Assessment of hydrogen direct reduction for fossil-free steelmaking. J Clean Prod. 2018;203:736–45 The assessment provides concrete example of applying hydrogen for an application in the industrial sector and provides implication in terms of costs and energy requirement. This type of analysis is much needed for additional possible pathways and technologies to plan and develop the enabling economic and policy environment to spur industry electrification. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
- 44.ArcelorMittal. World first for steel: ArcelorMittal investigates the industrial use of pure hydrogen – ArcelorMittal. 2019. https://corporate.arcelormittal.com/news-and-media/news/2019/mar/28-03-2019. Accessed 12 Aug 2019.
- 45.Birat J-P. Low-carbon alternative technologies in iron & steel. 2017.Google Scholar
- 49.Weiss, Werner, Spörk-Dür M. Solar Heat Worldwide. 2019.Google Scholar
- 52.Forsberg C. Putting synergies into actions: integration of nuclear and renewables in competitive electric markets. Pathways to decarbonization an int. work. to explor. synerg. between nucl. renew. energy sources. 2016.Google Scholar
- 53.Collier U. Renewable heat policies: delivering clean heat solutions for the energy transition. Paris Collier U (2018) Renewable heat policies: delivering clean heat solutions for the energy transition. Paris. 2018.Google Scholar