The potential for recovering and using surplus heat from industry

Published: 27/03/2014

Together with Element Energy and Imperial College London, Ecofys developed a novel approach to quantify the potential for recovery and re-use of industrial waste heat. It involves first-of-a-kind databases describing “archetypical” characteristics of industrial waste heat production and heat sinks and a database on heat recovery technologies. A techno-economic model that links energy and carbon prices and investor priorities with these database was used to quantify the opportunities per sector.

This approach has been applied to the UK industry, focussing on the nine most energy intensive industries and the power sector: Overall 48 terawatt-hours per year (TWh/yr) of industrial waste heat sources were identified, about 16% of the industrial energy demand. The technical potential – the source-sink combinations that together deliver the highest CO2-saving – was identified to be 11 TWh/yr (2.9 Mt CO2/yr). The economic potential – projects with a positive net present - is 8 TWh/yr. We also identified a commercial potential of 6 TWh/yr from projects with a simple payback period of maximum two years. The study proves that there is technical and economic potential for decarbonizing the UK industrial energy demand by recovery and re-use of industrial waste heat. The results of the study will be used as input to the discussion to identify heat recovery projects, taking into account barriers like security of supply and financing issues. The UK government will use the results to define further policy actions.

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Jeroen de Beer
Sustainable Industries and Services
Chemical plant (c) fotolia/msimonia