UTD Benefits > Large Commercial and Industrial End Users

Why We Do It Addressing Recognized Needs of Large Commercial and Industrial End Users

Large commercial and industrial customers utilize many different types of buildings and operations and can have widely varying manufacturing demands and space constraints, highly-customized equipment, and high up-time requirements.  Individual equipment typically provides >400-500 million Btus/hr for space and water heating, >11 tons (>132,000 Btu/hr) for cooling, and >50kW of on-site power generation. UTD is helping to address their recognized needs.

Expand Affordable, Resilient, Energy-Efficient Product/Technology Options

“ASHRAE, CIBSE, and other stakeholders should support research to develop enhanced resiliency in the following areas:

  • Design and operation of HVAC&R and other building systems to extend beyond increasing energy efficiency and occupant health and comfort to address life-cycle costs, resistance to extreme events, and continued operation and/or reduced recovery time in the event of catastrophic events and in the face of climate change.”
Position Document on Resiliency in the Built Environment, American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air-Conditioning Engineers and Chartered Institution of Building Services Engineers, 2019

Develop New Technologies that Address Unique, Diverse Process Needs

Barriers and enablers that can halt or accelerate a company’s progress to install heat recover technology include:

  • “Process and Technology Factors: these factors come into play at the investigation stage. Identifying a heat sink and integrating heat recovery technologies with existing equipment could be a barrier, including the timing required for installing equipment (where some shut down is required). The physical structure of a site can act as a barrier, with sites too small for some technologies. Companies also described some skepticism about the technical performance and reported paybacks of untested technologies.”
Barriers and Enablers to Recovering Surplus Heat in Industry, UK Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy, Nov. 2016, p. 46

“Most heavy industries require enormous quantities of heat at high temperature. In many cases (including the cement, iron and steel, and chemical industries), the core industrial processes involve smelting ore, breaking strong chemical bonds or increasing a product’s energy content. These processes produce substantial GHG emissions. ….

The needs of the specific industries themselves vary considerably and are extremely heterogenous (even within one major production facility). Three requirements are key:

  • Temperature: Industrial products are made through the application of high-grade heat to feedstocks. Temperature demands vary significantly from around 200 °C to nearly 2,000 °C.
  • Flux: Industrial heat demands must be met with high (and commonly continuous) heat flux into the system. The flux must be large enough to sustain reasonable production.
  • Reliability: Most heavy industrial production occurs at large facilities with high capital costs (e.g., refinery, steel mill). Most of these facilities operate with very high capacity factors, commonly 60-95%. As such, heat supply must be dispatchable and available both throughout the day and throughout the year.”
ICEF Industrial Heat Decarbonization Roadmap, Innovation for Cool Earth Forum, Dec. 2019, p. 1

Overcome Hurdles to New Product/Technology Options through Collaboration

“Interaction [of industrial companies] with other stakeholders, such as governments, utilities, and other industrial companies, could help to identify synergies between industrial decarbonization and decarbonization in other sectors or companies, driving targeted innovation and driving down costs. …

Overall, decarbonizing industrial sectors requires collaboration across governments, industrial players, and research institutes, similar to the effort that led to the cost reduction and scale up of renewable energy generation.”

Decarbonization of Industrial Sectors: The Next Frontier, McKinsey & Co., June 2018, p.10

“While regulatory policies are most critical, innovation alliances also serve an important, mutually beneficial purpose. Innovation alliances can be public, private or involve combinations of types of stakeholders.  …

Much more private investment and public-private collaboration in RD&D is required, particularly around TRL 6–8. Collaborative measures can increase success as well as cost efficiency through resource and risk sharing, as well as tapping in to complementary expertise.”

Accelerating Sustainable Energy Innovation, World Economic Forum, May 2018, p. 20 

“The other major challenge entrepreneurs identify is the need to perform pilot tests in the field. This is a critical step in moving bench-scale prototypes to a reliable, commercial technology. In field tests, the entrepreneur sees how the technology is handled by field personnel, how it integrates into the existing system, and how it performs in real-world situations. The specific testing needs of clean energy technologies vary widely. … These variations in testing needs create a challenge to find the right testing facility or partner for field trials.”

Advancing the Landscape of Clean Energy Innovation, Breakthrough Energy, Feb. 2019, p. 55 

“Successfully shepherding new technologies from concept to commercialization requires support at all stages, but the demonstration stage is particularly underfunded (C2ES, 2019; Nemet et al., 2018; Hart, 2018). The IEA defines technology demonstration as the “operation of a prototype … at or near commercial scale with the purpose of providing technical, economic and environmental information” (IEA 2011). The fundamental role of demonstration is to instill confidence in technology developers, users, investors, and the public that a technology will perform as intended. However, the first several large demonstrations of an emerging technology generally entail a level of technical and financial risk beyond what private industry can support, leading to a “commercialization valley of death” (Nemet et al.,2018).”

Accelerating Decarbonization of the U.S. Energy System, National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine, The National Academies Press, 2021, p. 169 

“Climate-tech start-ups usually face a deeper valley of death than IT start-ups.  To demonstrate technological and commercial viability and successfully cross the valley, climate-tech start-ups may need to simultaneously scale up research to a working technology prototype, ensure the supply chains needed for product development are in place, and establish a pathway to profit generation, including a clear demand for the product from consumers or utilities for both hardware and software. …

Collaboration with external partners provides climate-tech start-ups with resources and intangible assets that help them navigate through the valley of death and get the investment they need. Collaborations can reduce some of the perceived risks inherent to clean energy innovation, improve the prospects of climate-tech start-up survival, and facilitate clean energy technology commercialization.”

Collaboration Between Start-Ups and Federal Agencies: A Surprising Solution for Energy Innovation, Information Technology & Innovation Foundation, Aug. 2020, p. 3 

“The energy sector faces a series of unique challenges compared with other industries that make it especially difficult for even the most promising projects to attract private-sector investment that could help them surpass these critical stages:

  1. Capital-Intensive…
  2. Long Payback Periods…
  3. Valued as a Commodity…
  4. Regulatory Uncertainty and Fragmentation…

For the reasons listed above, the private sector generally underinvests in energy R&D. The risks associated with energy R&D are frequently too high for the private sector to make the investments needed on its own to match the scale of the opportunity of developing transformational energy technologies.”

The Power of Innovation, American Energy Innovation Council, Nov. 2018, p. 10 

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