Renewable Thermal Energy

Worldwide, industrial heat makes up two-thirds of industrial energy demand and almost one-fifth of total energy consumption. However, only 10 percent of this demand is met using renewable energy. To address this, C2ES, David Gardiner and Associates, and the World Wildlife Fund convened the Renewable Thermal Collaborative (RTC), a coalition of companies, institutions, and governments committed to scaling up renewable heating and cooling.

The RTC’s goal is to create a community of more than 100 corporate buyers, establish policy support for the deployment of renewable thermal technologies, and put the United States on the path to reduce industrial sector thermal-related emissions 30 percent by 2030 and full sector decarbonization by 2050.

The RTC’s vision

  • Educate all parties about the urgent need to address renewable options for thermal energy
  • Identify market barriers to renewable thermal technologies
  • Enable the delivery of cost-competitive renewable thermal options
  • Improve the marketplace and financing for renewable thermal technologies
  • Develop a long-term vision for scaling up renewable thermal technologies in the United States and globally

About the RTC

Since its founding in 2017, the RTC has built a growing membership of large energy buyers representing approximately $2.5 trillion in market capital, some of whom have successfully invested in renewable thermal solutions with significant emissions and cost savings. RTC members include manufacturers, state and local governments, and universities. The RTC also includes more than 40 technology developers and service providers working across an array of renewable thermal solutions, such as green hydrogen, solar thermal, and electrification of industrial processes. These sponsors provide important institutional support for the RTC’s work to advance renewable thermal solutions for large customers.

As large thermal energy users, RTC members work together to meet the growing necessity for renewable heating and cooling sustainably, economically, and at scale. The collaborative advocates for policies that support the deployment of renewable thermal solutions and helps members understand the problems in the market, learn from each other, and overcome barriers to renewable heating and cooling.

As a co-convener, C2ES contributes to the strategic direction of the RTC and carries out the coalition’s policy work, which includes building awareness and consensus among policymakers on the urgency of decarbonizing thermal energy, analysis of state and federal renewable thermal opportunities, and advocating for policies that accelerate renewable thermal deployment. Additionally, C2ES contributes to the knowledge base of the RTC, performing technology and sector assessments.


The Renewable Thermal Vision: Finding a Path Forward for Decarbonizing Thermal Energy in the U.S. Industrial Sector.

Clean Heat Pathways for Industrial Decarbonization:  An overview of the current status of industrial heat in a range of sectors with key criteria for evaluating or characterizing clean heat technologies and the challenges and opportunities clean heat technology options present. The brief concludes with recommendations for a suite of policies that can provide a pathway to reducing emissions from industrial heat.

Clean Industrial Heat: A Technology Inclusive FrameworkA look at the challenge of heat for the industrial sector.  Today, most industrial heat production comes from the combustion of fossil fuels; 45 percent is produced using coal, 30 percent with natural gas, 15 percent with oil, and 9 percent with renewable energy.

Industrial Electrification in U.S. States: An analysis of a handful of industries and the impact electrification would have on their energy use, emissions, and energy costs. The report identifies specific technologies which can electrify processes in the studied industries, including direct electrification and indirect electrification using hydrogen, and describes the impacts and benefits of deploying these technologies.

Green Hydrogen Technology Assessment: A look at the potential for and barriers to the use of green hydrogen for industrial heat applications. This report provides insights and recommendations for large corporate energy buyers and other key market and policy stakeholders.

Thermal Batteries: Opportunities to Accelerate Decarbonization of Industrial Heat: An analysis of the potential benefits of and barriers to the use of electricity-powered thermal batteries to decarbonize nearly all industrial heat demand. This report finds that thermal batteries can be cost-competitive in much of the U.S. even today and provides modeling to demonstrate the highest-potential use cases, which heavily depend on how the industrial facility is sourcing renewable electricity and access to wholesale power prices.