WEF: INDUSTRIAL CLUSTERS KEY TO NET ZERO
Two recent publications from the World Economic Forum highlight the critical role of industrial clusters in helping countries reach their decarbonization targets. Industrial clusters are groups of industries, such as cement, steel, and chemicals, physically in the same location. These clusters can exist either by design (purpose built industrial “parks”) or by coincidence, and they can be found all over the world. Their climate impact is huge. For example, WEF estimates industrial clusters contribute as much as 20% of total emissions in Europe.
Together with Accenture, the World Economic Forum has developed a framework to identify opportunities to help clusters reduce their emissions, built around four key solutions.
- Systemic efficiency and circularity
- Direct electrification and renewable heat
- Carbon capture, utilization and storage (CCUS)
Of greatest interest to us, of course, is #2, direct electrification and renewable heat, the arena where 247Solar technology offers unique solutions.
Direct electrification and renewable heat
In a comprehensive document prepared by Accenture, the WEF identifies three areas of opportunity where direct electrification and renewable heat can help clusters dramatically reduce their emissions.
- Electrify low to medium temperature and pressure processes
- Generate low cost, renewable electricity and heat onsite (e.g., rooftop solar, biomass, concentrated solar power)
- Pursue shared infrastructure (e.g., microgrid, storage, flexibility)
Solutions in these areas have the potential, based on EU estimates, to reduce cluster greenhouse gas emissions by up to 15%. (247Solar offers technology to address each of these opportunities. Ask us to tell you more.)
According to the WEF, “the attractiveness of electrification is rising due to carbon pricing, falling renewables costs, shared infrastructure (such as microgrids) and emissions reduction targets that eliminate the use of unabated natural gas.” Their report highlights 4 key enablers that make cluster electrification from renewable sources increasingly viable today:
On site and shared Renewables, Storage and Microgrids Through on site renewables generation, shared dispatchable zero carbon sources (e.g., biomass plant, SMR or hydropower), storage and microgrids, industrial clusters can increase energy autonomy and share and reduce risk associated with variability of wind and solar.
Demand Optimization For grid electricity consumption, industry can, where possible, increase flexibility to shift production from peak price hours to lower price hours. In addition to lower costs, this can increase revenue from providing flexibility services to the grid.
Virtual Renewable PPAs When energy demand cannot feasibly be supplied by on site renewables, clusters can pool demand for renewable PPAs (e.g., similar to U.S. community choice aggregation (CCAs).
Retrofitting and Hybrid Technologies Some technologies allow for gradual transformation by retrofitting existing machines or installing hybrid systems. This allows for reducing fuel costs by switching between energy vectors.
The WEF concludes: “Companies in industrial clusters already have a long history of collaboration when it comes to sharing resources, challenges and solutions. But there is a new driving force for co-location: net-zero commitments at the national level … Putting in the effort now will help us to ensure a cleaner, greener and more prosperous future.”
The complete WEF/Accenture report is well worth a look. Find it here.