Opportunities for Solar Industrial Process Heat in the United States

Colin McMillan, Carrie Schoeneberger, Jingyi Zhang, Parthiv Kurup, Eric Masanet, Robert Margolis, Steven Meyers, Mike Bannister, Evan Rosenlieb, William Xi

Research output: NRELTechnical Report


Energy used in the production and processing of materials and products represents a significant fraction of the overall energy footprint of the industrial sector. Solar technologies may provide suitable alternative to existing combustion technologies, but their relevance for industries in the United States has been largely unexplored at the necessary levels of spatial, temporal, and operational detail. To provide the first assessment of the technical opportunities for solar technologies to meet the demand for process heat in the United States, we first develop estimates of energy use by process temperature at the county and hourly resolutions for all manufacturing industries. We then estimate the opportunities for seven solar technology packages—comprised of solar thermal and photovoltaic-connected electrotechnologies—to meet process heat demand given solar resources and available land area by county.
Original languageAmerican English
Number of pages112
StatePublished - 2021

NREL Publication Number

  • NREL/TP-6A20-77760


  • electrification
  • heat pump
  • industry
  • manufacturing
  • photovoltaic
  • process heat
  • solar thermal


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