Electrification of industrial process heat: long-term applications, potentials and impacts

Panel: 4. Technology, products and system optimisation

This is a peer-reviewed paper.

Dietmar Schüwer, Wuppertal Institute for Climate, Environment and Energy, Germany
Clemens Schneider, Wuppertal Institute for Climate, Environment and Energy, Germany


Converting electricity into heat offers the opportunity to make of use large scales of renewable (surplus) energy in the long run in order to reduce shut-downs of renewable power plants and to substitute fossil fuels. Electrification seems to be also very promising for industrial heat applications, as it enables high process temperatures to be achieved in a tailor-made and efficient way and enables the utilisation of other energy sources like waste heat, geothermal or ambient heat (via heat pumps).

This article analyses theoretical and technical electrification potentials of Steam Generation and Other Process Heat Generation in the following energy-intensive branches: iron & steel, non-ferrous metal, iron foundries, refineries, base chemicals, glass, cement clinker and paper industry in Germany. Literature research, expert interviews as well as own modelling were conducted to determine potentials and their implementation barriers. Based on these methods, market potential to electrify industrial steam generation was estimated. On the basis of two climate protection scenarios, the effects of both a monovalent and a hybrid industrial power-to-heat strategy were quantified with regard to greenhouse gas reduction and energy efficiency (primary energy saving).

The pathway towards electrification will be reflected by criteria such as path dependency, dependency of infrastructure and system compatibility. Recommendations for research and development as well as policies are derived from the overall analysis.

The article shows that electrification can be an important option to achieving high CO2-savings in the industrial heating sector in a long-term perspective. However, the scenario calculations show that electrification does not in itself guarantee reduction of greenhouse gases or savings of primary energy. To reach these goals, it is essential to further develop industrial heat pumps and to map electrification and further development of renewable energy (including infrastructure such as power networks and storage facilities) in a concerted strategy.


Download this presentation as pdf: 4-051-18_Schuwer_pres.pdf

Download this paper as pdf: 4-051-18_Schuewer.pdf