Energy efficiency levels in process industry are expected to continue to improve vastly over the next 33 years, to 2050.
A new in depth study, prepared by ICF Consulting, covers anticipated energy usage in eight separate industrial sectors. Between them, the eight sectors account for one-quarter of total UK final energy
consumption, covering 98 per cent of industrial energy usage.
The sectors are: iron and steel; chemicals and pharmaceuticals; non-ferrous metals; pulp, paper and print; non-metallic minerals; general machinery; food and beverages; and petroleum refineries. Of these only the first two are projected to be using more energy for production processes in 2050 than today.
All sectors are set to improve their energy intensity. Most of these sectors are presumed to enjoy a significant increase in production rates during the period, even though six of the eight are on course to reduce the overall amount of fuel needed to achieve this growth.
One exception is the petroleum refineries sector. Overall production in this particular sector is set to drop by 23 per cent by 2050, in line with the anticipated decline in the carbon intensity of the economy.
Even though in the past two decades refineries have succeeded in improving production energy efficiency by well over 10 per cent, energy intensity is expected to improve further whilst satisfying demand for lower sulphur products.
The food and drink sector is expected to continue to improve its productivity and high standards for food safety and quality. This is set to lead to reduced energy consumption owing to improved energy efficiency, even as production continues to grow.
In contrast energy intensity is predicted to remain relatively flat for the non-metallic minerals sector, which includes glass, ceramics and cement manufacture.
Overall, process industry is set to continue to augment the overall economy-wide trend towards less energy usage, even as the country’s wealth grows. Over the past decade, UK Gross Domestic Product has increased by 13 per cent, even whilst overall consumption has dropped by 18 per cent.