The breadth and coverage of analytical expertise in the IEA Technology Collaboration Programmes (TCPs) are unique assets that underpin IEA efforts to support innovation for energy security, economic growth and environmental protection. The 38 TCPs operating today involve about 6 000 experts from government, industry and research organisations in more than 50 countries1.

Industrial Technologies and Systems (IETS TCP)


Designing efficiency improvements in industrial processes

The IETS TCP aims to support the research and to promote the results of cost-effective new industrial technologies and system configurations that increase productivity and product quality while improving energy efficiency and sustainability. One key message stemming from activities of the IETS TCP is that by integrating process analysis into small- and large-scale industrial processes it is possible to achieve energy savings and to reduce CO2 emissions. 

The panel discussion during the 2013 International Process Integration Jubilee Conference (Gothenburg, Sweden).*

Today the industry sector represents 29% of the world’s energy consumption.** Therefore, improving energy efficiency in industries such as aluminium, cement, chemicals, food processing, iron and steel, petrochemicals, and pulp and paper could offer considerable benefits. 

Energy efficiency improvements include integrating individual processes to whole systems related to heat, power, chemicals or equipment, to reduce costs of the energy and mitigate environmental effects. These improvements – referred to as “process integration” (PI) – have the potential to achieve cost reductions for industries as well as emissions reduction and waste reduction.

For example, PI methodologies enable industries to identify and quantify opportunities for GHG emissions reduction at every point in the process. PI also enables industries to transition from a continuous, linear production process to a flexible “batch” production. Enhancements to each batch could be made at a lower cost than revising the entire system. For these reasons, PI is the focus of one of the ongoing activities of the IETS TCP – the international PI conferences.

In March 2013, 110 participants from 24 countries attended the International Process Integration Jubilee Conference (Gothenburg, Sweden), the 20th such event held since 1992.

The conference presented an overview of developments in PI since 1992, highlighted best practice, and identified a number of remaining barriers. First, there appears to be a lack of analytical tools that were simple in presentation to be understood by a layperson yet complex in their implementation so as to provide real benefit. Moreover, existing energy efficient tools and methods are designed for strategic analysis, and not developed for the day-to-day optimisation of the production sites. The development of a guidance system to optimise energy use thus requires further model development both in real-time and in the future. Additionally, a lack of dedicated personnel in commercial plants to carry out the PI analysis and implementation was noted.

As PI integrates a number of traditional disciplines (chemistry, mechanical engineering, energy, modelling, and management) with few programmes integrating industrial considerations, there is a gap in academic degrees covering all aspects of PI. Cross-disciplinary academic programmes are one way to address this issue, resulting in a benefit for industries. In spite of these barriers, PI is applied successfully today in many industries worldwide, and tools are available to facilitate further implementation.

Nevertheless, case studies of best practice are rare, and data from case studies are lacking. Case studies for large, multi-disciplinary projects highlighted during the conference will be synthesised into a summary report.

* Photo courtesy of CIT Industriell Energi AB
** IEA, Paris (2015), Key World Energy Statistics


  • Energy efficiency in small and medium enterprises
  • Energy-efficient separation systems
  • Industrial excess heat recovery
  • Industrial heat pumps
  • Industry-based bio-refineries
  • Membrane technologies
  • Process integration in the iron and steel industry


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