Electrify everything! Challenges and opportunities associated with increased electrification of industrial processes
Paper in proceedings, 2020
The aim of this study is to assess the potential for and challenges associated with increased industrial electrification. In a carbon constrained world, as all sectors of the economy seek to lower emissions, competition for energy carriers with a low climate impact (biomass/biofuels, ‘green’ electricity and hydrogen) will grow. Thus, how integration in this case of electrified industrial processes is managed and how interlinkages and interactions between both the supply side and demand side of the electricity system is handled will be key to the overall outcome with respect to overall systems costs, total capacity needs and security of supply. Estimates of EU industry electricity demand in 2050 vary considerably. Depending on assumptions with regards to for example overall industry activity levels, choices of energy carriers and process technologies, estimates of industrial electricity demand in 2050 available in the literature vary from 1,000 to 4,430 TWh (from approximately 1000 TWh in 2020). Based on experiences from two recent research project and a review of recent literature we outline and discuss five areas which will be critical to the potential for and outcome of a move towards increased electrification of industrial processes in the European Union. We discuss how high geographical concentration of industrial loads in particular regions, in combination with significant changes on both the supply side and demand side of the electricity system (i.e. transports and residential heating) post 2030 will pose significant challenges. But also describe, how new options for process designs, production planning, optimisation and automation may provide benefits beyond CO2 emission reduction and how careful proactive planning provide opportunities for synergies.