The cost of heat ends up in the cost of the products we buy.
Because the cost of heat ends up in the products we buy, manufacturers are always looking for the cheapest source of energy. So far, the only available methods for large-scale sustainable production of heat at sufficiently high temperatures come at costs 2-3 times the fossil-fired alternatives. For this reason, manufacturers never choose sustainable methods for heat production.
The price of fossil fuels varies from fuel to fuel and from region to region, but often natural gas is the cheapest fuel option. The lowest prices for natural gas are typically obtained by large companies with access to piped natural gas. Companies that do not have access to a pipeline will have natural gas delivered as liquified natural gas (LNG) in pressurized containers. As LNG can be easily transported over long distances, it holds more uniform prices in most places.
Existing methods for sustainable heat production can deliver heat in this temperature range, but so far they haven’t been able to compete with fossil fuels. However, this situation may change as carbon emission taxes increase.
The US market for industrial process heat below 260ºC/500ºF consumes 2,000 TWh annually at a fuel cost in the neighborhood of €40-50 billion while emitting 500MT CO2 (1.3% of total global emissions). To the extent efficient, low-cost sustainable solutions can function together with fossil fuels in hybrid setups, this is an area that may hold great climate- and business potential. Upcoming articles “Integration” and “Plenty of Room” take a closer look at how easy it is to integrate solar heating into fossil-fired systems, and how far heat can be transported while remaining competitive to fossil fuels.
Interested in reading more? Please see the links to my other articles below. Additionally, a ‘Like’ from you will also be much appreciated as this should help direct more attention at the many business and climate opportunities the market for heat production offers.
Thank you for reading,