Increasing our industrial energy efficiency could spur more than $200 billion in new private investment in the United States and create up to one million jobs, according to Oak Ridge National Laboratory.*
Manufacturing and power generation creates large amounts of heat, which typically escapes through smokestacks into the air. With currently available, proven technologies we can capture this energy and use it to heat additional buildings or generate more electricity cheaply and reliably. Simply put, improving industrial efficiency means we can get more power from the same amount of natural gas, coal, and other fuel sources.
The country’s first power plant—Thomas Edison’s Pearl Street Station built in 1882 in New York—took advantage of the useful heat generated when making electricity both to produce additional electricity and warm neighboring buildings. Edison’s same technology can be used nearly everywhere—in large and small industrial factories, hospitals and college campuses, commercial buildings, apartment buildings, and single-family homes.
This readily available technology is already at work in every state. Altogether, utilizing harnessed heat contributes 85 gigawatts of electricity capacity annually, or almost 9 percent of the nation’s electricity. We could double that amount. Greater energy efficiency for the industrial and manufacturing sector will:
- Create new American jobs. Oak Ridge National Laboratory estimates up to one million, highly skilled jobs could be created.
- Save money making American companies more efficient and competitive.
- Stop us from wasting energy: making companies more self-sufficient and able to operate during black-outs.
Industrial manufacturers across the country are also generating electricity with no incremental emissions like the ArcelorMittal Steel Plant in East Chicago where 75MW of emission free electricity is being generated from the byproduct heat of an onsite blast furnace. New technology advancements are making it possible for industrial manufacturers to capture low temperate heat for onsite electricity generated with no additional emissions as well. Iron, steel, paper, chemical, oil and gas processing, cement and other manufacturers are key to our nation’s pursuit of clean energy and energy independence.
Increasing America’s industrial energy efficiency can produce more power from natural gas, coal, landfill gas, and biomass with less waste. There are benefits for the consumer, businesses, and the environment. It also means reducing the pressure on our commercial electricity grid making it more reliable. Getting more energy from the same amount of fuel also helps communities avoid the need to build new power plants at an additional cost to ratepayers.
Industrial Efficiency Organizations:
*Oak Ridge National Laboratory. Combined Heat & Power: Effective Energy Solutions for a Sustainable Future, 2008.