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Energy Efficiency as a Foundational Technology Pillar for Industrial Decarbonization

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The U.S. government aims to achieve net-zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050 to reduce the severe impacts of climate change. The U.S. industrial sector will become a focal point for decarbonization since it accounts for 33% of the nation’s primary energy use and 30% of its energy-related CO2 emissions. Industrial emissions are also expected to increase by 15% through 2050, making the industrial sector a logical target for decarbonization efforts. Energy efficiency technology pathways provide low-cost, foundational routes to decarbonization that can be implemented immediately. Energy efficiency technology pathways, such as strategic energy management, system efficiency, smart manufacturing, material efficiency, and combined heat and power, are well established and would immediately reduce energy use and emissions. However, their role in the aggressive net-zero decarbonization pathway for the industrial sector is still unclear. This study aims to address energy efficiency pathways for decarbonization, and reviews studies related to these technologies for industrial decarbonization through 2050. This study identifies different strategies for the industrial sector in general and that are specific to six energy-intensive industries: iron and steel; chemical; food and beverage; petroleum refining; pulp and paper; and cement. Finally, a path toward the successful implementation of energy efficiency technologies is outlined.