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U.S. industry energy-saving potential, 2010–2050

Increased adoption of energy efficient technologies as well as cogeneration and waste heat recovery systems will reduce energy use by an additional 4.7 quadrillion BTUs from business-as-usual. These and other changes (energy changes due fuel switching or transformation in other sectors) can reduce projected primary energy use by 27% in 2050.


Primary energy consumption in U.S. industry

Energy use for U.S. industry is conventionally projected to grow from 24.4 quads in 2010 to 30.5 quads in 2050.

In 2010, more than four-fifths of energy use in U.S. industry came from fossil fuels. Natural gas is the dominant source of energy (~35%).


U.S. biomass consumption, 2010-2050

In Reinventing Fire, non-cropland biomass provides 16 quads of primary energy in 2050. That’s six times today’s biomass consumption and 60% higher than U.S. government projections extrapolated to 2050.


Biofeedstock supply curve

The 16 quadrillion BTU of biomass used in 2050 in Reinventing Fire is supplied by agricultural residue, mill residue, dedicated energy crops, municipal solid waste and forestry residue. No cropland or edible feedstock is required.


Reinventing Fire U.S. energy consumption, 2050

In 2050, Reinventing Fire envisions an economy that uses 71 quadrillion BTUs of primary energy—70% of that energy is supplied by wind, solar and biomass.


2050 generation by case

Each of Rocky Mountain Institute’s four scenarios for the future U.S. electricity system (detailed here) will have a very different electricity generation mix.


Biomass process flow for advanced cellulosic ethanol process

There are different types of biofuels as well as processes to create them. RMI analysis uses the National Renewable Energy Laboratory’s cellulosic ethanol process from corn stover as the basis for processing biofuels for the transportation sector.


Fuel–switching options in industry

With current fuel prices, most coal and oil use can be switched to natural gas for process heating needs.


U.S. renewable energy potential

Considering budding technologies that could be commercially available in the future, the potential U.S. generation capacity from renewables is overwhelming. Wave and tidal generators, offshore deep-water wind farms, and enhanced geothermal power (which uses the Earth's heat but doesn’t require a natural steam source) are all in development and represent a huge potential energy resource.


Projected decline in U.S. industry sector fuel use

Net refining, efficiency and CHP savings can reduce industrial sector primary energy use 27% below the 2050 “business-as-usual” forecast despite 84% higher industrial production.


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