Digitalization for Energy Efficiency in Energy Intensive Industries

University essay from KTH/Energiteknik

Abstract: A fourth industrial revolution (Industry 4.0) is on the horizon. It is enabled by advancements in information and communication technologies (i.e. digitalization) and concepts such as the Internet of Things and cyber-physical systems. Industry 4.0 is expected to have great impact on the manufacturing and process industries, changing how products are developed, produced and sold. However, Industry 4.0 is a novel concept and its impacts are still uncertain. An increasingly strict climate and energy agenda in Sweden is putting pressure on the industrial sector and it is, therefore, important that the sector exploits the full potential Industry 4.0 can provide for increased sustainability. This thesis examines the status of digitalization in the Swedish energy intensive industries (i.e. pulp and paper, steel, and chemical industries) and how it could impact energy efficiency in the sector. Qualitative research methods were used to carry out the study. A literature review and in-depth interviews with employees within the industries were conducted. The results show that, while digitalization is considered important for the future competitiveness of the Swedish energy intensive industries, the digital maturity of the sector is not considered high. Digital technologies can increase energy efficiency in a number of different ways (e.g. through better optimization tools, increased availability of processes and more efficient maintenance management). However, there is not a clear link between digital strategies and energy efficiency measures in the energy intensive industries in Sweden. Moreover, energy efficiency is not considered the main driver for implementing digital technologies, it is rather considered a positive side effect. To accelerate the implementation of digital technologies it is important to support further research in this area and encourage a closer cooperation between stakeholders as well as mitigating challenges such as uncertainty regarding return on investment and issues related to data security and ownership.

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