The world continues to consume energy quickly over the years. The demand for electricity alone rose to 3.4% annually. From 1980 to 2013, it increased to 22,100 TWh (terawatt-hours) from 7,300 TWh.
End users, though, gobble energy at different speeds and percentages. If you belong to industries, then your sector needs it—a lot.
How Much Do You Use?
The US Energy Information Administration (EIA) provides some comprehensive data on industrial energy consumption. In the 2016 report, the global industrial sector consumed over half of the delivered energy.
However, the numbers vary on where these industries operate and the business they are running:
- Companies in OECD countries may increase their demand for energy to 85 quadrillion Btu within two decades from 73 quadrillion Btu in 2012.
- Those businesses in non-OECD nations will also need more energy, but it will go up from 149 quadrillion Btu to a whopping 225 quadrillion Btu.
- Industries can fall into three categories: energy-intensive manufacturing, non-energy-intensive manufacturing, and non-manufacturing.
- Those that belong to the energy-intensive manufacturing group include food, refining, iron and steel, and pulp and paper.
- Non-energy-intensive industries are manufacturers of paint and coating, pharmaceuticals, and computer and electronic products.
- Mining, construction, and agriculture are non-manufacturing sectors.
Note, though, that:
- The difference in energy consumption between OECD and non-OECD nations can be because of various factors, one of which is the accessibility and cost of renewable energy.
- Regardless of the industry, it produces and needs energy, such as fuel, heat, and electricity.
- Excessive use of energy also contributes to carbon emissions. The top three sources are liquid fuels, which may be from fossil fuels; natural gas; and coal. These are all non-renewables and produce a lot of carbon.
How can industries then decrease their energy consumption, reduce their energy bills, and even help protect the environment without compromising their output and productivity?
The Solutions Available
Industries can pursue two solutions:
- Adapting energy-efficient tools and innovations
- Switching to renewable energy
For adapting energy-efficient tools and innovations, one option is using radiant heaters. These devices are low-cost methods of warming objects at different stages of production, such as drying or curing. Unlike convection heaters, radiant heaters generate energy in it, then transfer it to the nearby objects. It doesn’t need air to create or spread heat. The power is also more targeted, which makes it ideal for strategic manufacturing processes.
Industries can also explore green-building solutions. Some may switch to double-glazed windows that keep the heat within the space efficiently.
Industries also need to switch to renewable energy. Based on the EIA data, renewable energy use will increase for both OECD and non-OECD nations. From 17.4 quadrillion Btu in 2012, it will be 25.1 quadrillion Btu in 2040. Within the same period, the average annual percentage change for renewables will reach 1.3%, the highest of all sources of industrial energy.
However, non-OECD nations may embrace renewables faster than OECD countries. From 2012 to 2040, energy use from solar and other similar sources will increase by 1.7% annually compared to only 0.3% by OECD nations.
The good news is renewable installation and production is increasing, especially in the United States. According to the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA), large utility-scale pipelines for solar grow at almost the same rate as installation.
Non-renewable energy is a finite resource. As the sources become depleted, the cost of generating it, including electricity, goes up. It can raise production costs and make products less competitive. It also worsens climate change, which costs billions of dollars. Industries, particularly energy-intensive manufacturing companies, have to explore options to decrease dependency now.