This state-of-science review sets out to provide an indicative assessment of enabling technologies for reducing UK industrial energy demand and carbon emissions to 2050. In the short term, i.e. the period that will rely on current or existing technologies, the road map and priorities are clear. A variety of available technologies will lead to energy demand reduction in industrial processes, boiler operation, compressed air usage, electric motor efficiency, heating and lighting, and ancillary uses such as transport. The prospects for the commercial exploitation of innovative technologies by the middle of the 21st century are more speculative. Emphasis is therefore placed on the range of technology assessment methods that are likely to provide policy makers with a guide to progress in the development of high-temperature processes, improved materials, process integration and intensification, and improved industrial process control and monitoring. Key among the appraisal methods applicable to the energy sector is thermodynamic analysis, making use of energy, exergy and exergoeconomic techniques. Technical and economic barriers will limit the improvement potential to perhaps a 30% cut in industrial energy use, which would make a significant contribution to reducing energy demand and carbon emissions in UK industry. Non-technological drivers for, and barriers to, the take-up of innovative, low-carbon energy technologies for industry are also outlined.