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An Assessment of Solar Process Heating Opportunities

An Assessment of Solar Process Heating Opportunities

To discuss detailed C-THRU research updates, further the team’s knowledge, and promote collaboration, the C-THRU researchers have been holding regular seminars where each Workstream lead has delivered a talk on a subject related to the work of the project. 

In September’s seminar session, Dr. Eric Masanet (Workstream 3: Process energy and GHG emissions) gave an insightful presentation about an assessment of solar process heating opportunities in the U.S. manufacturing sector.  

The work done by Dr. Masanet’s research group at Northwestern University indicates that solar technologies can meet 25% of the industrial heat demand and potentially reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 15%.  

Many industrial subsectors can reduce the energy consumption for the heating processes by replacing conventional heating technologies with solar thermal and PV heat technologies, such as petroleum refining, chemicals, and paper manufacturing.  

Moreover, this research has developed analysis capabilities to estimate the technical opportunities for different solar technologies to meet process heat demand based on available land area.  

Dr. Masanet also addresses that thermal energy storage is a key for solar technology success in the industrial process heating and site assessment for individual facilities is needed to determine economic viability for the solar technology implementation.  

In my opinion, this study implies a potential for decarbonizing the chemical industry by utilizing solar technologies in heat processes for the C-THRU project. Data on the capacity of solar industrial process heat for the chemical industry can be compiled for different regions based on the method used in this research. 

More information can be found on the National Renewable Energy Laboratory website.

Photo credit: Anders J