Electrifying Industry

Manufacturers can replace fossil fuels with renewable electricity and eliminate up to 8% of Australian emissions.

When you pour a can of beer, open a jar, read a book or buy a plastic drink bottle, do you think about the energy used to make them?

For manufacturers to transform raw materials into everyday products they require enormous amounts of heat, which causes 8% of Australian greenhouse gas emissions – as much as our entire car fleet and more than the state of South Australia. Globally, the contribution of process heat is higher – about 12% of all emissions.

Beyond Zero Emissions’ Electrifying Industry (2018) shows how manufacturers can generate heat differently, through the smart use of renewable electricity. By electrifying industry, Australian can eliminate up to 8% of national emissions.

Electricity is remarkably versatile and has no practical temperature limit, meaning it can power any industrial heat process from cooking a can of beans to melting 100 tonnes of iron. It allows us to make things in a smarter way and can double the efficiency of many industrial processes, saving money in the process.

Electrical heating is also quicker, more controllable and less labour intensive.

Contents of Electrifying Industry

Electrifying Industry explores the potential of five categories of electrical heating technology:

  1. industrial heat pumps
  2. electromagnetic heating – infrared; induction and microwaves
  3. electric furnaces – resistance, arc and plasma
  4. renewable hydrogen produced by electrolysis
  5. heat storage – storing electricity as heat.

The report shows how these technologies could be used in the manufacturing of everyday products such as food, paper, bricks, plastic and steel.

Transforming manufacturing processes

This extract from the Electrifying Industry report shows the electric heat technology that can replace existing methods.

Table C.1: ‘How to electrify’ guides in Electrifying Industry

Product Electrical heating technology
Prepared food Heat pumps and infrared
Beer Heat pumps
Milk powder Heat pumps
Paper Infrared
Aluminium casting Induction
Brick Microwaves
Glass Electrical resistance
Plastic Electrical resistance
Steel Renewable hydrogen and electric arc furnace
Ammonia Renewable hydrogen



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Beyond Zero Emissions (BZE) is an internationally recognised climate change think tank, providing independent and ambitious climate change solutions for Australia.

Our flagship research shows how all sectors of the Australian economy can decarbonise, repower and benefit from the transition to zero emissions. These Zero Carbon Australia plans cover renewable energy and electricity; energy efficient buildings; sustainable transport; agriculture, farming and land use; and industry.

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