13.1 Technology-based strategies


Industry1 is the second largest sector in terms of energy consumption. Absorbing 30% of the total energy supply after transport (37%), it is responsible for only 9% of its energy-related emissions (7% of total emissions), with process emissions representing an additional 7%. 

A few reasons explain the relatively good standing of the Canadian industrial sector with respect to GHG emissions. Two in particular stand out: (i) hydroelectricity-rich provinces have deployed considerable efforts over decades to attract energy-intensive industries, such as aluminium smelters and the electrochemical industry; (ii) some sectors, such as the pulp and paper industry, have a long tradition of using their own waste to produce the energy they need, resulting in fewer emissions than the burning of fossil fuels to meet all their needs.

Many strategies can be applied to reduce industrial energy-related emissions:

  1. Fuel and/or technology switching for energy consumption in order to use low-carbon sources like electricity or green hydrogen instead of fossil fuels to supply needs;
  2. Process switching towards less energy-intensive solutions when they exist, which make it possible to reduce or eliminate industrial process emissions;
  3. Equipping production facilities with carbon capture equipment to capture a large percentage of emissions when 1) and 2) are not technically feasible or too costly;
  4. Reducing production and demand, including through material substitution, energy efficiency and design;
  5. Recovering waste heat through a more effective integration of industrial activity into local energy systems for the provision of other services.

Although many of these strategies overlap with efforts to improve energy efficiency, it is important to remind readers that they are not the same. In some cases, decarbonizing may actually reduce energy efficiency. For example, replacing a gas boiler with a biomass boiler leads to a significant loss of efficiency while considerably reducing GHG emissions. 

In the following sections, we discuss results from the modelling of specific subsectors and applications in order to illustrate the implications of the transformations required for industry to reach net-zero targets. This discussion excludes smaller sectors that will nevertheless need to be decarbonized. The sections at the end of this chapter highlight this challenge and potential solutions, including waste heat recovery. 


1 For the sake of simplification, unless otherwise specified, the term “industry” is used as a shorthand for the industrial sector outside of fossil fuel production in the rest of this chapter.