According to prevailing scientific opinion, greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions are contributing to the changing of the Earth's climate. The daily conversion of fossil fuels to usable forms of energy-namely heat, steam, and electricity-produces as a byproduct, high levels of CO2, which is the most prominent of GHGs. Due to the strong link between conventional energy generation and GHGs, managing energy production and consumption are considered paramount to confronting issues of global climate change.
The industrial sector consumes about one third of primary energy in the United States (U.S.). In 2007, U.S. energy consumption by the industrial sector (including agriculture and mining) totaled 32.77 quads and released 35.8 percent of GHG emissions (EIA, 2009). Though the overall U.S. industrial energy intensity (energy use per dollar of value added to GDP) has declined since 1993, structural changes account for a large portion of the improvement, with efficiency improvements a smaller factor. Significant opportunities exist for cost-effective energy savings-including the deployment of new, clean technologies-which must play a leading role in further reducing energy intensity and thus GHG emissions within the sector.
Federal, regional, and state programs, policies, and initiatives have evolved to promote GHG emissions reduction, energy-efficient technologies, and best energy management practices within industry. This paper reviews the most relevant of these programs, policies and initiatives and highlights their impacts on energy efficiency improvement and GHG emissions reduction in the industrial sector. The paper also suggests additional policy ideas and measures that could maximize energy efficiency and GHG emissions reduction.