Waste heat recovery and utilization represents a missed opportunity to reduce China’s total energy use, decrease carbon dioxide emissions, and improve air quality. Currently, China does not have a standardized or transparent methodology to quantify the waste heat potential in the industrial sector, which accounts for more than two thirds of China’s primary energy consumption. This paper presents the results of thermal energy modeling to quantify the technical maximum waste heat potential in three energy-intensive industrial sectors: cement, iron and steel, and glass. In addition, this paper identifies the practical potential for producing electricity from waste heat in these sectors. The analysis finds that the glass sector has the highest waste heat to power generation potential per unit of production basis among the studied sectors. This paper provides key principles for managing waste heat in the industrial sector and key sector characteristics for implementing waste heat to power generation technologies.