May 21, 2024 - Energy & Environment

Study: Manufacturing key to reining in Chinese emissions

Illustration of China's flag with lightning bolts replacing the four small stars.

Illustration: Shoshana Gordon/Axios

A new report shows a path to cutting emissions from China's industrial sector, by altering how heat is generated for manufacturing.

Zoom in: According to data first provided to Axios, China's industrial sector is responsible for 61% of the country's carbon dioxide emissions, finds think tank Energy Innovation and Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory.

  • The installation of industrial heat pumps and thermal batteries could meet most, though not all, of China's demand for industrial heating, the report concludes.
  • This would have the advantage of tapping into China's increasingly renewable grid.

Between the lines: The report also points out that deploying more efficient heating technology, and thereby cutting emissions, would have a benefit for the global supply chain.

  • Countries moving to impose carbon border adjustments to penalize more emissions-intensive Chinese goods, for example, would have less of a reason to do so, the report notes.

Yes, but: The cost competitiveness of thermal batteries and — in many cases, industrial heat pumps — may depend on whether and how China's emissions trading system is rolled out to the industrial sector.

  • Currently the trading system applies to the power sector, which is still quite coal-intensive.

China's government can take steps to lower the barriers to industrial electrification. For example, the report notes that fossil fuel prices are currently lower than electricity costs for industrial energy buyers.

What they're saying: Electrifying industrial process heating would "yield massive benefits to the country and the world," the report concludes.

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