Waste heat from industrial represents a significant potential energy resource that could be tapped to provide energy for community heating systems or to produce electricity. A few years ago, I was involved with one community that attempted to move in this direction to tap waste heat from a painting facility to provide heat to civic facilities and emergency power supply in the event of a major outage of the power grid. While the numbers appeared to make sense, the complexity of navigating the regulatory, public-private financing processes, and negotiating interconnection with the power utility slowed progress to a crawl.
Bill McKibben has written an article in the Orion Magazine that explores some of the issues related to tapping waste heat as an energy supply option. He asks a valid question why so much attention is placed on wind and solar electricity when waste heat may be able to be tapped for lower costs.