Columbia Energy work explains a multistrategy approach to decarbonizing industrial electricity & heat use
Reducing greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions from industrial operations poses a significant challenge due to heat needs ranging from 50–1,600°C (122–2,912°F) as well as process-based emissions. The Paris Agreement emphasizes maintaining a global temperature increase “well below 2°C and toward 1.5°C” from preindustrial levels. This requires industry to reach net-zero carbon dioxide (CO2) by 2050 or pay for expensive additive, verifiable, and permanent offsets. Given this and the 15–25-year lifespan of major process equipment, all new industrial production investments will need to be near-zero emissions by the early 2030s or be offset. This will require sectorally and regionally tailored mixes of more material efficiency, a higher volume and quality of recycling, electrification of existing processes, process changes that allow switching to ultra-low GHG emission fuel and feedstock, and carbon management. These strategies also lead to greatly improved local air quality.
In a new commentary, Chris Bataille (COLUMBIA SIPA CGEP) explains the necessity and challenge of decarbonizing industry, details technical areas that will need to be addressed, and provides policy recommendations based on those. Facilitating such a massive transformation will require a variety of strategies and incentives, such as encouraging expansion of very low GHG electricity, innovating for uptake of near-zero emissions processes, and establishing industrial clusters for efficiency and cost reduction. Coordinating efforts across the country, regionally, and globally will help ensure green procurement, GHG accounting, and trade policies are adequate to the task ahead.