What Are Energy- and Emissions-Intensive Industries?

Energy- and emissions-intensive industries use a relatively high amount of energy in their industrial processes. In 2018, the industrial subsectors with the highest concentration of energy use and carbon emissions included chemicals, iron and steel, food and beverages, cement and concrete, and forest products, and accounted for nearly 80% of manufacturing greenhouse gas emissions and primary energy use.

Many of these industries utilize specific, hard-to-decarbonize industrial processes that make full decarbonization more difficult than developing a clean source of electricity or heat. At the same time, these industries are indispensable, mass-producing the materials and products essential to modern life while also serving as the engines of our economy. 

Innovations in industry-specific technologies for these subsectors have the greatest potential to increase efficiency, strengthen the manufacturing workforce, and reduce emissions.

Why Are RD&D of Energy- and Emissions-Intensive Industries Important?

Decarbonization challenges are unique to each subsector, requiring tailored research, development and demonstration (RD&D) to drive the innovation and adoption of manufacturing processes needed to reach greenhouse gas emissions targets. 

Emissions from industrial subsectors derive from two sources: energy use and industrial processes. Energy use emissions are created when we generate the electrical, thermal, or mechanical energy facilities need to run, often for industry-specific industrial processes. Process emissions occur as a direct byproduct of specific chemical transformations. For example, CO2 is released when carbon is added to iron to remove oxygen and make steel.

Innovations in sector-specific emissions reductions can also help manufacturers lower Scope Three emissions. These are emissions derived from the production of materials used as inputs and the emissions that result from the use of the product. Scope Three emissions are considered and minimized where possible to improve sustainability.

What Are IEDO's Goals?

The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) Industrial Efficiency and Decarbonization Office (IEDO) supports RD&D of technologies that will set the American industrial sector on a path to net-zero emissions by 2050. Specifically, IEDO supports activities that drive innovation and develop and demonstrate the commercial readiness of industry-specific technologies with the potential to decrease emissions intensity by at least 40% if implemented across the entire subsector, with specific targets set sector by sector.

The research goals identified in IEDO’s funding opportunities are informed by the 2022 DOE Industrial Decarbonization Roadmap. Goals are established through ongoing dialogue with industrial, academic, national lab, and interagency stakeholders and underpinned by IEDO’s strategic analysis.

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