Decarbonisation is a priority for economies around the world, which are currently rethinking their energy systems at an unprecedented speed in order to reduce dependence on fossil fuels and achieve ambitious climate targets.
For too long, industrial production has been considered selectively – the switch to hydrogen in steel production is a very present example. Yet the challenge – and at the same time the opportunity – industry faces is enormous in one area, in particular: two-thirds of industrial energy demand is accounted for by process heat, most of which is still generated using fossil fuels. This is why 25% of Germany’s greenhouse gas emissions are produced here, year after year. It’s time for that to change.
Decarbonisation, technology solutions
Due to the great diversity of industrial processes, there is no ‘patent remedy’ for all sectors when looking at decarbonisation technology solutions.
However, a wide range of technologies are already available that can effectively reduce industrial emissions:
Sustainably produced biomass can be used as fuel instead of coal, for example in combined heat and power plants. In this way, for example, the Danish energy producer Ørsted already supplies CO2-neutral heat and steam to its industrial customers in Kalundborg, Denmark. The disadvantage: the cultivation of energy crops competes with food production, which remains vital in many places against the background of the global hunger crisis.
Carbon Capture and Storage
Those who must continue to use fossil fuels, for example, due to a lack of available alternatives, can still reduce their emissions with the help of Carbon Capture and Storage (CCS) solutions, for example in steel production. However, the disadvantages of the technology include long lead times and a significant increase in the costs of industrial processes.
Especially in industrial processes that require high temperatures, low-emission hydrogen could replace other energy carriers. While industrial applications are seen as a future key market for hydrogen, further investment in the supply chain and optimisation of production processes are necessary until then. In low to medium temperature ranges, electricity-based alternatives are often available, so the still precious (green) hydrogen should rather be used elsewhere.
Heat generation in the industry can be electrified using, among other things, large-scale industrial heat pumps. However, this technology is only attractive for industrial applications with lower temperature requirements, as the heat pump models currently available can only provide heat up to about 180°C. Large-scale industrial heat pumps are still They are also not easily scalable and require a lot of space.
Process heat from originally fossil energy sources can also be electrified with the help of thermal storage. In this way, the technology provides CO2-free heat and steam on demand and enables, for example, the use of solar energy for production processes at night. Storage systems are cost-effective, flexible, reliable, and scalable for a wide range of industrial applications.
Thermal storage has long since ceased to be a research topic. ENERGYNEST is a global pioneer with its market-ready ThermalBattery™; several projects are currently under construction and in commercial use, for example, at the Norwegian fertilizer manufacturer Yara and the Italian energy group Eni.
Thermal storage is also one of the few technologies that simultaneously contributes to all three goals of the energy transition – because it increases supply security, ensures lower energy costs, and effectively reduces CO2 emissions. They, therefore, have a key role to play in the move away from natural gas in industry.
Als read the article HERE.