The industrial sector is the most important energy consumer relatively to any other end-use economic sector. This is because energy is widely used within an industrial enterprise for the operation of manufacturing equipment, steam production, process heating and cooling, cogeneration applications, lighting, heating, and air conditioning in buildings, etc. Additionally, basic chemical feedstocks contribute to the overall energy consumption of the industrial sector. Specifically, the production of agricultural chemicals is based on natural gas feedstocks, whilst organic chemicals and plastics are manufactured using natural gas liquids and petroleum products(U.S. Energy Information Administration, 2016).

The International Energy Outlook of U.S. Energy Information Administration (U.S. Energy Information Administration, 2016) suggests three distinct types for categorizing the industrial sector, namely, energy-intensive manufacturing, nonenergy-intensive manufacturing, and nonmanufacturing, as shown in Table 2.

Table 2 Major groupings and representative industries of industrial sector, Source: U.S. Energy Information Administration (May 2016)

Industry grouping Representative industries
Energy-intensive manufacturing
Food Food, beverage and tobacco manufacturing
Pulp & paper Paper manufacturing, printing and related support activities
Basic chemicals Inorganic chemicals, organic chemicals (e.g. ethylene propylene), resins and agricultural chemicals; includes chemical feedstocks
Refining Petroleum refineries and cola products manufacturing, including coal and natural gas used as feedstocks
Iron & steel Iron & steel manufacturing, including coke ovens
Nonferrous metals Primarily aluminium and other nonferrous metals, such as copper, zinc and tin
Nonmetallic minerals Primarily cement and other non-metallic minerals such as glass, lime, gypsum and clay products
Nonenergy-intensive manufacturing
Other chemicals Pharmaceuticals (medicinal and botanical), paint and coatings, adhesives, detergents and other miscellaneous chemical products, including chemical feedstocks
Other industrials All other industrial manufacturing, including metal-based durables (fabircated metal products, machinery, computer and electronic products, transportation equipment and electrical equipment)
Agriculture, forestry, fishing Agriculture, forestry and fishing
Mining Coal mining, oil and natural gas extraction and mining of metallic and non-metallic minerals
Construction Construction of buildings (residential and commercial), heavy and civil engineering construction, industrial construction and speciality trade contractors.

The classification of manufacturing industries to energy intensive and non-energy intensive is quite useful for the scope of the project. It implicitly identifies the industry sectors that should be prioritized in improving their energy footprint.

The industrial sectors, which are considered to be energy-intensive are: food, pulp and paper, basic chemicals, refining, iron and steel, nonferrous metals (primarily aluminium), and non-metallic minerals (primarily cement). These sectors account for about half of the total energy used by the industrial sector. It should be emphasized that the above industrial sectors considered are in line with the ones identified by the Department for Economic, Scientific and Quality of Life Policies of the European Parliament (Bruyn et al., 2020), which focuses on those industrial sectors that are covered in the EU Emissions Trading System (ETS) and have the highest share of CO2 emissions. Specifically, the European Parliament considers the following industries as energy intensive: Iron and steel sector, refineries, cement, petrochemicals, fertilizer, lime and plaster, paper and pulp, aluminium, inorganic chemicals, and hollow glass.


Bruyn, S. De et al. (2020) Energy-intensive industries: Challenges and opportunities in energy transition. Luxembourg.

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