As a capital, energy-intensive industry and one of the largest emitters of greenhouse gases, the process industry faces several challenges. These can have major impact on corporate earnings and the industry’s ability to remain competitive, namely due to energy consumption and waste streams, raw materials, water scarcity and carbon emissions, with energy spend being one of the largest cost items incurred.
According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration’s International Energy Outlook 2016 Reference case, in 2012 the industrial sector consumed 54% of the world’s total delivered energy. From 2012 to 2040, the global industrial sector’s energy use is expected to increase annually by approximately 1.2%, from 222 quadrillion to 309 quadrillion British thermal units (Btu).
How we generate energy today and, more importantly, in the future is a key issue of our time. Pivotal are the solutions that are energy-efficient, renewable, and produce fewer or no greenhouse gas emissions.
As industrial and energy companies worldwide seek ways to maintain optimal system processes and plant performance while planning and supporting all aspects of global sustainability improvements, process energy can act as the solution to counter the challenges faced. Process energy plays a key role in terms of improvements in the usage of assets, efficient industry and energy processes, and in the effective use of renewable energy sources and resources such as energy, water and raw materials to help eliminate or reduce operational and energy inefficiencies, and decrease total operating costs. These factors, especially when combined, deliver benefits that can generate profits, increase competitiveness, manage risks to the environment, reduce carbon footprints from production, and attain operational excellence.
Sustainable energy technologies that convert raw sources into renewable supply, such as with thermal energy conversion of biomass and waste streams through combustion or gasification for the generation of power and heat, are also important energy-efficient solutions that can supply electricity and heat to facilities as well as provide environmental and economic benefits.