Main content area

Assessing global resource utilization efficiency in the industrial sector

Rosen, Marc A.
The Science of the total environment 2013 v.461-462 pp. 804-807
energy efficiency, energy resources, energy use and consumption, exergy, industrial symbiosis, industry, prioritization
Designing efficient energy systems, which also meet economic, environmental and other objectives and constraints, is a significant challenge. In a world with finite natural resources and large energy demands, it is important to understand not just actual efficiencies, but also limits to efficiency, as the latter identify margins for efficiency improvement. Energy analysis alone is inadequate, e.g., it yields energy efficiencies that do not provide limits to efficiency. To obtain meaningful and useful efficiencies for energy systems, and to clarify losses, exergy analysis is a beneficial and useful tool. Here, the global industrial sector and industries within it are assessed by using energy and exergy methods. The objective is to improve the understanding of the efficiency of global resource use in the industrial sector and, with this information, to facilitate the development, prioritization and ultimate implementation of rational improvement options. Global energy and exergy flow diagrams for the industrial sector are developed and overall efficiencies for the global industrial sector evaluated as 51% based on energy and 30% based on exergy. Consequently, exergy analysis indicates a less efficient picture of energy use in the global industrial sector than does energy analysis. A larger margin for improvement exists from an exergy perspective, compared to the overly optimistic margin indicated by energy.