A hot opportunity to cut emissions

Process heat is the steam, hot water or hot gases used in industrial processing, manufacturing and space heating. It is New Zealand’s second biggest opportunity to reduce energy-related carbon emissions after transport.

About half of New Zealand’s process heat demand comes from burning coal or natural gas.

Process heat is used throughout the economy

  • 79% by the industrial sector – including sawmills, pulp and paper mills, and food processing plants (including dairy).
  • 10% by the commercial sector — mainly in shops and office buildings.
  • 7% by the public sector — schools, hospitals, prisons and public administration buildings.
  • 4% by the agricultural sector — mainly for indoor cropping (glass houses).

Process heat accounts for about 9% of our total emissions, and 27% of our energy-related emissions.

(Ministry of Business Innovation and Employment)

High-emissions fuels are used most for process heat

  • Natural gas accounted for the largest proportion of fuel consumption at 38%, and the largest levels of greenhouse gas emissions at 50%.
  • Coal accounted for 11% of fuel consumption, and 26% of greenhouse gas emissions. This ratio is due to coal holding the highest carbon content of any fossil fuel – and being more emissions intensive per unit of industrial output than any other source.
  • Wood-derived fuels (including black liquor) accounted for 23% of fuel consumption. Their collective greenhouse gas emissions were 1%.

Source: EECA EEUD 2016 data (2018).

Action to reduce process heat emissions

Process Heat in New Zealand (PHiNZ) is an investigation into how we can make process heat more energy efficient and climate-friendly.

We need to reduce our reliance on fossil fuels to create process heat and find ways to use more renewable energy sources such as clean electricity or biomass.

We’re working on this with the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment (MBIE).

Process Heat in New Zealand(external link)


Process heat factsheets

These factsheets give an informative snapshot of how process heat is used in New Zealand and in key industries.

Process heat overview factsheet(external link)

Dairy manufacturing factsheet(external link)

Indoor cropping factsheet(external link)

Meat and meat product manufacturing factsheet (external link)

Petrochemical industry factsheet(external link)

Wood processing factsheet(external link)

  • Process heat in New Zealand

    More about the PHiNZ initiative looking into opportunities and barriers in using process heat.

  • Energy end-use database

    Explore the latest data on how we use energy in our businesses, transport and homes.