Radical Change in Energy Intensive UK Industry

  • Paul Griffin

Student thesis: Doctoral ThesisPhD


Managing energy demand is essential to energy security and climate change mitigation. The industrial sector accounts for over a fifth of UK primary energy demand and greenhouse gas emissions. Energy intensive industry is uniquely restricted in the way it uses energy and emits greenhouse gasses. In this thesis, the potential of radical measures to achieve significant energy demand reduction and emissions abatement in UK energy intensive industry is assessed.Adopted is a multidisciplinary approach combining thermodynamic and techno-economic analysis techniques. Bottom-up assessments are applied to key energy intensive sectors of industry to capture the diverse and interactive array of technological characteristics invisible from a top-down perspective. Detailed projection models are built to design and analyse technology roadmaps for the sectors out to 2050.In an illustrative roadmap assessment, the technological pathways of radical process transition and carbon sequestration were each shown to achieve about 80% abatement in 2050 from 1990 emissions levels. Radical process transition achieved greater abatement before 2030 and this was reflected in lower cumulative emissions over the full period. Higher risk is associated with carbon sequestration from its reliance on timely access to CO2 transport and storage technology to compensate for lower short-medium term abatement. Although, combining carbon sequestration with high levels of biomass combustion indicated the largest potential abatement to 2050.Abatement economics in the iron and steel sector are notably sensitive to resource costs and the carbon trading price. The carbon trading price influences relative production costs in favour of higher abating pathways, but increases absolute costs. This signals the need for supportive policy measures that accelerate technology development and deployment while mitigating the risk of the carbon trading price to competitiveness. Some carbon capture technologies reduce relative production cost even in the absence of a carbon price, but this excludes the cost of CO2 transport and storage. Meanwhile, radical process transition pathways have a higher dependence on the future prices of natural gas, electricity, and scrap.Future work should focus on expanding the economic appraisal to other sectors and to indirect costs, as well as incorporating wider material efficiency strategies and running different future scenarios.
Date of Award24 Jun 2015
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • University of Bath
SupervisorGeoff Hammond (Supervisor) & Kevin Robinson (Supervisor)


  • Energy efficiency
  • Industry
  • bottom-up approach
  • Roadmap
  • emissions reduction

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