RTC Members and Solutions Providers Receive $1 Billion to Accelerate Industrial Decarbonization

By Oren Lieber-Kotz

The RTC applauds the U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) Office of Clean Energy Demonstrations (OCED) for its historic investment in decarbonizing the U.S. industrial sector. OCED’s recent announcement of $6 billion of funding under the Industrial Demonstrations Program, matched by $14 billion of private cost-sharing, will go to projects deploying market-ready, commercial-scale renewable decarbonization solutions that are crucial for ensuring the sustainability and competitiveness of American industry. Congratulations to the several RTC Members and Solutions Providers, including Antora Energy, Diageo, Eastman, Electrified Thermal Solutions, International Paper, Kraft Heinz, Rondo Energy, Skyven Technologies, and Unilever, whose projects were selected to receive awards totaling $1.084 billion.

The awards, funded by the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law and the Inflation Reduction Act, will support 33 clean energy and efficiency projects across more than 20 states. Together, the projects will avoid about 14 million metric tons of greenhouse gas emissions annually. The program aims to prove the viability of emerging technologies that can be adopted across the highest-emitting sectors in the next few years. OCED selected projects across the aluminum and metals, cement and concrete, chemicals and refining, food and beverage, glass, iron and steel, and pulp and paper sectors, with an additional set of projects focused solely on electrifying process heat.

The projects will advance several renewable thermal solutions critical to reaching corporate and national net-zero emissions goals. RTC Members and Solutions Providers will receive funding for the following projects:

  • Antora Energy will contribute its thermal energy storage technology to a project led by Summit Materials, Inc. receiving up to $215.2 million. The project will build four new low-carbon cement facilities in Georgia, Maryland, and Texas, preventing 1.1 million metric tons of emissions a year.
  • Diageo and Rondo Energy will receive up to $75 million, in partnership with the National Renewable Energy Laboratory, to replace natural gas combustion at two of Diageo’s facilities in Kentucky and Illinois. The beverage plants will instead receive heat from electric boilers and Rondo Heat Batteries powered by on-site renewables, reducing annual emissions by 17,000 metric tons.
  • Eastman will use up to $375 million of federal cost share to construct a plastics recycling facility. A thermal energy storage system, powered by on-site solar, will provide high-temperature process heat to produce recycled PET plastic with a 90% lower lifecycle carbon footprint than the virgin fossil alternative.
  • Electrified Thermal Solutions will receive up to $35.2 million to partner with ISP Chemicals and the Tennessee Valley Authority to install its Joule HiveTM thermal battery at a Kentucky chemical plant. The system will turn affordable off-peak electricity into medium-temperature heat, reducing facility emissions by 70%.
  • International Paper will receive up to $46.6 million to demonstrate a membrane technology from Via Separations to dramatically improve the efficiency of pulp production, reducing emissions from the process 75%.
  • Kraft Heinz will receive up to $170.9 million to deploy a mix of heat pumps, electric heaters and boilers, biogas boilers, solar thermal, and thermal energy storage at ten facilities. Each facility will use a mix of renewable technologies tailored to its needs, resulting in a 99% emissions reduction from 2022 levels for each facility.
  • Skyven Technologies will receive up to $145 million to demonstrate a heat-as-a-service financing model for a portfolio of projects installing steam-generating heat pumps across a wide array of sectors.
  • Unilever will receive up to $20.9 million to deploy electric boilers and heat pumps, with waste heat recovery at four ice cream manufacturing plants. The projects will reduce emissions by at least 14,000 metric tons per year and offer a replicable model for decarbonizing low-temperature process heat.

The DOE’s support of electric boilers, heat pumps, solar thermal, thermal batteries, energy efficiency, and low-carbon fuels like biogas and green hydrogen align with the RTC’s strategy for reducing industrial U.S. emissions 30% by 2030 and achieving full industrial thermal decarbonization by 2050. The Renewable Thermal Vision Report outlines five parallel decarbonization pathways: electrifying industrial processes, building out renewable power generation, deploying renewable fuels, scaling solar thermal and thermal batteries, and capturing the remaining emissions. By funding several demonstrations of cutting edge electrification technologies, the OCED awards also support the strategy outlined in the RTC’s Electrification Action Plan that encourages expanded federal funding for research, development, demonstration, and deployment (RDD&D) and strengthening demand signals and deployment opportunities.  

The DOE’s measures ensuring that the transition to renewable technologies helps local communities also aligns with the RTC’s priorities. The DOE mandated that each project develop a Community Benefits Plan (CBP) describing how proposals would deliver the greatest benefit to the most people in the facility’s location, with an emphasis on helping historically marginalized populations. As a result, nearly 80% of the selected projects will take place in disadvantaged communities, and 58% will use union labor.

The RTC helps our Members and Solutions Providers learn about and access government programs for decarbonizing heat. RTC staff help Members and Solutions Providers identify and act on opportunities through events, regular meetings, and customized analyses. For example, the RTC Policy Finder acts as a guide to the whole range of federal and state policies that can support renewable thermal technologies. In February, the RTC held an exclusive workshop where participants learned about best practices for crafting CBPs and networked to find project partners.

The large number of RTC Members and Solutions Providers selected for funding from OCED illustrates how collaboration can transform thermal energy use in the U.S. This historic investment illustrates the pivotal role the federal government can play in rolling out cutting-edge technologies that strengthen the U.S. industrial sector and advance the country towards a more sustainable economy.