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Industrial Energy Is Heating Up: 4 FAQs You Need to Know

Why Is Renewable Energy Growing in the Manufacturing Sector?

Renewable energy is poised to accelerate in the manufacturing industry, as support for environmental, social, and corporate governance continues pushing to the forefront of stakeholder interest. Additionally, several activities in the clean energy market are helping spur growth, including: 

Technology Advancement

Activity is heating up in next-generation technologies. Industrial energy stakeholders are investing in them, which helps to integrate variable renewables, such as wind and solar, into the electric grid. These technologies are widely renowned because they provide:

  • Zero-carbon electricity

  • Renewable curtailment

There's also an evolving focus on mechanical and battery storage technologies, which helps offer long-duration energy storage options. 

Rising Energy Costs

Let's face it, with an 85% cost decline over the past decade, solar photovoltaic (PV) systems are one of the most cost-effective energy solutions on the market. As renewable energy flexes its competitive muscle, the manufacturing industry will likely boost its efforts to incorporate PV systems into its current business models. 

Supply Chain recovery 

COVID-19 sent ripples through every supply chain, and the renewable energy was no exception. Solar manufacturers are evolving their supply chains to combat lost profits amid logistics-related pressures and U.S.-China trade tensions. In 2023, U.S. renewable energy developers will likely seek out alternative suppliers, developing substitutes to help alleviate these pressures. Once the market evens out, these cost-savings will be passed down to the manufacturing industry through the form of cheaper materials and labor.  

Sustainable Growth

End-of-life (EoL) management strategies for renewable energy products are set to improve in 2023, which could help reduce waste, increase security, and provide additional financial value through sustainability credentials. 

As solar, wind, and battery installations are poised to climb to new highs, waste generation in the manufacturing industry will likely soar as well, requiring urgent solutions. 

Economists predict, by 2030, decommissioned PV modules could approach 1 million tons of waste, meaning there would be upwards of 80 kilotons of lithium-ion batteries (LiBs) to recycle in the United States alone.

Luckily, stakeholders, regulators, and policymakers have started exploring solutions for extending the lifespan, performance, and reuse of industrial energy products. Once these solutions are available to the manufacturing industry, it'll be much easier to reduce waste—and more importantly—generate energy from equipment that would otherwise be out-of-commission.  

How Is Hydropower Used in Industrial Energy?

Hydropower, also referred to as hydroelectric power, is a renewable energy source generated by using a dam or diversion structure to alter the natural flow of a body of water. 

Hydropower relies on a consistent water cycle supply to produce electricity using a source whose energy isn't reduced or eliminated in the process of generating power. 

Unlike PV Systems, though, manufacturing facilities can't immediately benefit from hydropower. Because you need water to generate electricity, your building needs to be located on or near a water source. Additionally, the energy produced isn't consistent, because it depends on both the volume of the water flow and the change in elevation. Simply put, the greater the flow, the more electricity you'll be able to generate.

Does Geothermal Energy Cause Pollution?

The Earth''s crust is composed of rocks, water, and molten rock. The heat produced by magma is a substantial source of energy that can be converted into electricity if harvested properly.

Referred to as "geothermal energy," magma is used to heat water, which turns into steam. That steam is then used to power a turbine above the ground, producing electricity for the grid. 

However, this energy source doesn't come without complications, as greenhouse gasses often sit below the surface of the earth. When geothermal energy is harvested, some of these gases can escape into the atmosphere. Generally speaking, these emissions tend to be higher near geothermal power plants.

To make matters worse, geothermal power plants generate small amounts of sulfur dioxide and silica emissions, which often contain traces of toxic heavy metals, such as:

  • Mercury

  • Arsenic

  • Boron

It's also important to note the construction of geothermal power plants can have an effect on the stability of the land. In fact, geothermal power plants have contributed to the sinking of the Earth''s surface in both Germany and New Zealand.

Geothermal power plants often use hydraulic fracturing, which can help facilitate earthquakes. In 2006, the construction of a geothermal power plant in Switzerland triggered an earthquake with a magnitude pushing almost 3.5 points on the Richter scale.

Is Biomass a Renewable Resource? 

In its most basic sense, biomass is plant-based material used as fuel to produce heat or electricity, such as:

  • Wood and wood residues

  • Energy crops

  • Agricultural residues

  • Waste from manufacturing plants, farms, and households.

Since biomass can be directly used as a fuel, the words biomass and biofuel are often used interchangeably. Biomass is considered a renewable energy source because its source of energy comes from the sun, and because it can regrow in a relatively short time.

However, it's important to note with both biomass and hydropower, energy returns are heavily reliant on environmental factors. If you're looking for a consistent, dependable source of renewable energy, PV systems offer the best bang for your buck. 

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