Industrial heat a challenge for emissions reduction

Friday 14 Dec 2018

Reducing emissions from New Zealand’s heavy industry without using natural gas or a coal-biomass blend appears prohibitively expensive, based on analysis by Vivid Economics.

Using forestry to absorb emissions from hard-to-treat sectors like industrial heat, dry-year power generation and long-haul trucking, could raise energy costs by about NZ$3.8 billion to NZ$4.6 billion a year, or NZ$1,700 per household, the London-based consultancy says.

But if less planting is achieved than assumed in the Productivity Commission’s report on meeting the country’s 2050 net-zero carbon goal – and electricity or hydrogen has to be used to directly reduce emissions - that cost could climb to NZ$6.2 billion to NZ$7.2 billion – or NZ$2,700 per household annually.

One of the biggest contributors to that jump is the cost of alternative high-heat options for industry. “Only 5 percent of industry heat is provided by electricity, indicating the high cost and technical immaturity of this solution,” Vivid said.

“Currently, high-temperature heat pumps have an operational range of 80 – 150°C; while this is improving, the potential to cover high-grade heat processes is uncertain. The evidence on other technologies - hydrogen, resistive heating, induction heating and plasma torches - is currently poor, and costs are expected to be high.”

Heavy industry accounts for about 15 percent of the country’s emissions. Azwood Energy is perplexed by the government encouraging electrification of process heat when it says wood is readily available, cheaper and would not add additional load on the national grid.

General manager Brook Brewerton said work by forestry research institute Scion indicated the country’s wood residues could displace as much as 70 percent of the country’s coal demand and reduce emissions by 1.1 million tonnes per year.

“The Scion data is fantastic, it shows there is about 50 petajoules of energy going to waste,” he said. “If large energy users are willing to pay half of what they would for electricity per gigajoule – Azwood Energy could double the recoverability of biomass.”

Mataura Valley Milk general manager Bernard May said customers are demanding more sustainable products and the dairy industry will have to adapt its energy supplies. On the South Island, where the government has banned exploration for gas, that will mean switching to biomass, but more effort is needed to establish consistent, long-term supplies, he said.

The company, which already uses electric fork hoists and won’t allow suppliers to use palm kernel as feed next season, this year commissioned a coal-fired boiler that can be converted for biomass further down the track. But May noted the conversion might still cost a further $5 million, and the company can’t make that commitment until it can get a 10-year fuel contract to back it. More >>.

Source: BusinessDesk

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