From boiling crude oil to molding plastic and melting steel, industrial processes often require heat, sometimes temperatures that exceed 500 degrees Fahrenheit.
Producing that heat is a major source of carbon pollution, because it usually comes from burning fossil fuels.
“We haven’t done very much yet to address that large bucket of emissions,” says Marty Spitzer, senior director of climate and renewable energy with the World Wildlife Fund.
He helps facilitate a coalition called the Renewable Thermal Collaborative. It includes several large companies committed to reducing heating-related emissions.
To warm buildings, companies may be able to transition to renewable electricity. But transforming higher-heat industrial processes is more challenging.
There are clean options such as advanced solar collectors for some processes, but these technologies are often expensive, so the large energy buyers in the collaborative aim to drive down costs by coordinating their investments.
Spitzer says the work is urgent because it will take time to transform the markets and scale up new solutions.
“We have to start now in order to have a chance to solve the climate challenge,” he says.
Reporting credit: Sarah Kennedy/ChavoBart Digital Media.