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The sector-wide potential for emissions reductions is estimated at between 1.5 and 5.9 billion tons of carbon annually (IPCC 2007).


The largest sector-wide opportunity for carbon reduction in industry is through changes in energy use, including efficiency measures and fuel switching. Energy is a substantial part of industry costs, which makes efficiency technologies attractive to businesses. Harvesting of waste heat for energy and recycling of materials, for instance, can both improve the bottom line while reducing energy consumption and associated emissions. In many cases steps taken to reduce industrial energy use can be achieved at a negative cost. There are a number of approaches to reducing industrial energy use:

  • adoption of renewable and cleaner fuel sources
  • heat and power recovery
  • increased energy efficiency
  • materials efficiency and recycling
  • carbon capture and storage

Combined, the IEA estimates mitigation potential for carbon from these measures to be approximately 5.4 billion tons annually by 2050.


The industrial sector has experienced limited innovation around energy efficiency and low-carbon technologies, in comparison to the energy sector, and represents a nascent market . Energy savings are available in almost all segments but involve an upfront investment; hence one of the biggest challenges to be addressed is financing. As financial institutions look for new classes of investments, industrial efficiency could be promising if positioned correctly.

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Carbon War Room in association with Elsevier Biofuel TechSelect Go to the Carbon War Room website