US: To electrify industry at scale, flexible demand is essential

(ACEEE blog, 22 Feb 2024) Powering fast-expanding industries will require companies to modulate their energy use when the grid is strained or when there is excess renewable energy. Manufacturers—with utility support—will need to invest in technologies to enable this future.

U.S. industry has begun growing rapidly in recent years and is electrifying many processes that once relied on the combustion of fossil fuels—good news for our economy and the climate. Some projections have industrial electricity demand increasing tenfold by 2050. Meeting this demand could require doubling the nation’s total electricity generation over the next 25 years just to serve the industrial sector. 

For these industries transitioning from fossil fuels to electricity, it is critical that there be enough electricity on the grid and that the electricity be carbon free. Powering electrified industries without spiking greenhouse gas emissions from new fossil-fuel-powered generation plants will require using electricity at strategic times when renewable electricity generation is available, enabled by operational flexibility and electric and thermal energy storage. 

A new ACEEE white paper calls on industry, utilities, and states to prepare for increasing loads by investing in strategies and technologies that enable demand flexibility, the ability of industrial facilities to adjust their energy consumption in response to grid conditions.

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ACEEE blog, 22 Feb 2024: US: To electrify industry at scale, flexible demand is essential