Process heat users — listen up!

Thursday, 21 November, 2019

Process heat users — listen up!

Industry accounts for about 40% of Australia’s energy use and, of that, more than 50% is used to produce process heat. The Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA) has released a report that outlines renewable energy options for all Australian industrial users of process heat. For the food and beverage sector, the report says that all renewable energy options are worth consideration.

The comprehensive report Renewable Energy Options for Industrial Process Heat’ shows there are myriad opportunities for industrial users to switch to renewable energy alternatives to provide process heat. The report considers all industries ranging from alumina and metals processing, ammonia, iron and steel, cement and lime, pulp and paper, oil and gas, and food and beverage manufacturing.

While bioenergy and onsite solar PV have been popular renewable energy sources for the food and beverage sector, the report said other options worth considering include solar thermal and geothermal or even a combination of various options using electrical heating systems.

ARENA CEO Darren Miller said: “This report identifies that shifting to renewable energy to generate process heat is possible for these sites over the short, medium and long term using numerous technologies and approaches including bioenergy, geothermal, electrification, hydrogen and solar thermal together with process redesign, combining heat and power and co-locating greenfield developments with renewable resources.”

Process re-design, combined heat and power and co-locating greenfield developments to leverage off renewable resources offer potential for overall least cost solutions, the report found.

“Using renewable energy to generate process heat could displace up to 56 petajoules of gas per annum — enough to power a million average Australian homes for a year — within five years, which is significant in light of current supply conditions,” Miller said.

Across Australia, industrial sites that use process heat collectively use about 628 petajoules of fossil fuel heating per annum.

The report was produced by ITP Thermal in conjunction with Pitt&Sherry, Institute for Sustainable Futures and Beyond Zero Emissions.

The ITP report shows that the level of industrial experience with using renewable heat is low and barriers include a low appetite for risk and expectations of short payback times. In contrast, a key driver to increase the uptake of renewable energy is the visibility of relevant case studies.

ARENA recently launched its new Investment Plan that set about supporting industry to reduce emissions as one of three investment priorities. It has previously supported a range of projects that support industry to reduce emissions through bioenergy, electrification, hybrid renewable energy solutions combining solar or wind and storage and renewable hydrogen. Recently, ARENA announced support for the Australian Alliance for Energy Productivity (A2EP) to investigate opportunities for using renewables in process heating in food and beverage manufacturing.

To download the report and find out more, visit:

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