Opportunities for Solar Industrial Process Heat in the United States

February 21, 2021

Opportunities for Solar Industrial Process Heat in the United States

Learn more about the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) analysis on the potential for solar technologies to power a wide array of manufacturing applications, join a webinar with NREL analysts.

Today, natural gas and coal combustion supply most demand for industrial process heat (IPH), or the transfer of heat to a material within a production process. With the emergence of low-cost solar photovoltaic (PV) technologies, interest has grown in solar as an IPH option and decarbonization pathway for the industrial sector.

However, industry's thin margins and tight production schedules have raised questions about the reliability of on-site solar energy to meet required temperatures in industrial processes. This, along with other factors, has prevented adoption of solar energy for on-site use, which totaled just 0.8% of U.S. industrial total energy consumption in 2019.

To better understand the potential of solar for industrial process heat across all industries, NREL analysts developed higher-resolution data to study three main solar-for-IPH technologies—non-concentrating collectors, concentrating collectors, and PV-connected electrotechnologies—and their ability to provide on-site industrial process heat at low to medium temperature ranges across all industries in all U.S. counties, considering relevant end uses and technology limitations.

The findings, which are published in an NREL technical report and summarized in an interactive viewer, help establish the foundation for continued analysis to eventually match solar energy technologies with specific IPH demands.

Read more: https://www.nrel.gov/news/program/2021/zeroing-in-on-the-potential-of-so...