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Fuel–switching options in industry


With current fuel prices, most coal and oil use can be switched to natural gas for process heating needs. Biofuels can displace the 78% of oil use that is for transportation within Industry (everything from mining trucks to forklifts to bulldozers to port hostlers). The remaining oil used for process heating can be profitably replaced by gas.To shift the remaining coal to alternative fuels needs higher coal prices or increases in waste fuel availability and adoption. Both are occurring, so some steelmaking is shifting to gas and some cement kilns to waste fuels. See Reinventing Fire, pp. 147–150.

Note: The large biomass inputs are driven in large part due to process energy required for biofuel production (in which the assumed efficiency is based on the corn-stover cellulosic ethanol process). The majority of the biomass inputs are derived from dedicated energy crops or agricultural residue from existing food crops.


RMI analysis based on:

A. U.S. Department of Energy. “Annual Energy Outlook 2010 Energy Prices by Sector and Source, United States, Reference Case.”

B. Xu, Tengfang, J. Slaa, and J. Sathaye. 2010. Characterizing Costs and Savings Benefits from a Selection of Energy Efficient Emerging Technologies in the United States. Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory. link

C. Martin, N., E. Worrell, M. Ruth, L. Price, R. Elliott, and A. Shipley. 2000. Emerging Energy-Efficient Industrial Technologies. Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory. link

D. Bailey, Owen, and Ernst Worrell. 2005. Clean Energy Technologies: A Preliminary Inventory of the Potential for Electricity Generation. Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, April. link