Policy Brief

How to Decarbonize Industrial Process Heat While Building American Manufacturing Competitiveness

April 23, 2024

This brief outlines a path to electrifying 70% of industrial process heat by 2050, highlighting major challenges and opportunities. We discuss actions that four key stakeholders—federal policymakers, state and local policymakers, utility planners, and utility regulators—can take today to shift the market for industrial process heat away from fossil fuels and towards efficient, electrified technologies. An electrified industrial sector will be cleaner, smarter, more efficient, and more reliable than the emissions-heavy, fossil-fueled sector we have today. This shift will bring economic and health benefits—from reduced air pollution—to communities across the United States.

Manufacturing investments in the United States have steadily increased since 2020 but jumped 63% in 2023—the largest increase since 1951—largely driven by over $256 billion in new investments in clean energy, semiconductor, and EV manufacturing facilities. The industrial sector is likely to become the highest emitting economic sector if new manufacturing investments are not also paired with rapid deployment of decarbonization solutions. Technologically and economically, industrial decarbonization is feasible, yet only 5% of industrial process heat is electrified today. The technology to electrify most facilities is commercially available today, but deployment at the necessary scale will only occur with robust public policies. 

Policy Brief

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