Electrification Potential of U.S. Industrial Boilers and Assessment of the GHG Emissions Impact

Carrie Schoeneberger, Jingyi Zhang, Colin McMillan, Jennifer Dunn, Eric Masanet

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21 Scopus Citations


Electrification is a key strategy for decarbonizing the industrial sector. Industrial process heating, which still relies heavily on fossil fuel combustion and accounts for the majority of sector wide GHG emissions, is a particularly attractive electrification target. Electrifying industrial boilers represents a cross-cutting opportunity for GHG emissions reductions, given their widespread use in most manufacturing industries. Yet, there are gaps in the understanding of the current population of conventional industrial boilers in the United States that preclude a characterization of boiler electrification's technical potential to reduce fuel consumption and GHG emissions. In this study, we develop an up-to-date dataset of the industrial boiler population in the U.S. and quantify the county-level electricity requirements and net changes in fuel use and GHG emissions under the current electric grid and theoretical future grid scenarios. Our results show an increase of 105 MMmtCO2e and 73 MMmtCO2e in GHG emissions from boiler electrification, with and without the replacement of byproduct fuels, respectively, under the current electric grid, and a reduction of 19 MMmtCO2e and 7 MMmtCO2e in GHG emissions under a future high renewables electric grid. GHG emissions savings are currently possible only in certain regions of the U.S. unless future grids are decarbonized. We also provide discussion that could be useful for policy makers and manufacturing facilities for advancing the electrification of industrial boilers in locations and industries toward fuel savings and GHG emissions reductions.

Original languageAmerican English
Article number100089
Number of pages13
JournalAdvances in Applied Energy
StatePublished - 2022

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2022

NREL Publication Number

  • NREL/JA-6A20-81721


  • Boiler capacity characterization
  • Decarbonization
  • Electrification
  • Greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions impact
  • Industrial boiler dataset


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