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Demand-Side-Management in Plant Engineering

A Matter of Flexibility: How to Turn A Process Plant into an Energy-Saver!

| Editor: Dominik Stephan

An energy guzzler can become a power-saver: electrolytic chlorine cells
An energy guzzler can become a power-saver: electrolytic chlorine cells (Source: Restore)

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Get paid to use electricity? Sounds crazy. But Flexible Power and Demand Side Management are set to make production a highly flexible support of the power grid. Developers specifically have chemistry in mind — and a chlorine production plant demonstrates, how it is done.

The energy transition is a challenge: The high fluctuation of wind and solar power and the fluctuations in consumption demand enormous flexibility from energy producers, network operators and large consumers. What can be done if there is limited storage capacity?

Of course, the power stations are asked to provide both the flexibility to compensate for voltage spikes or the required stability to provide the basic grid load — but how about the consumers? Demand Side Management (DSM, also load control) is the name of the concept in which consumers adapt short-term energy needs in order to relieve the network and to prevent dangerous underfrequencies.

It is clear that this concepts work well for air conditioning or heat pumps. But how about industry? After all, industry is responsible for about 51 percent of global electricity consumption (a figure which varies for different countries — in fact the US industry accounts for only 24.4 percent of the country’s energy bill compared to 41 percent in Germany).

In fact, industrial processes with about ten gigawatts can also be made more flexible with load control, according to the German Energy Agency Dena. The incentives are discounts or compensation. Here it is worth taking a look at large consumers — for this reason, the DSM-specialists have set their sights on the energy-intensive chemical industry. Yet, until now, plant operators have seem reluctant to playing the role of a “power buffer for the energy revolution”. Until now.

Can an Energy Hog Become a Piggy Bank for Power?

In 2017, an industry made headlines that so far was mainly known for its huge energy bill: Vestolit, operator of the largest integrated PVC production in Europe, has decided to adapt DSM technologies in its chlorine-alkali electrolysis facilities. This astonishing feat is made possible by a development from the DSM specialists Restore: The company’s Flexpond platform allows consumers to connect to a smart network and adapt the energy requirement at any time to the line frequency.

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Flexibility granted

This cooperation enters new territory in several ways: Not only does the project show that the notoriously energy-intensive chlorine electrolysis can be made into an electricity saver, the project also underline for the first time that the utilisation of load control in industrial production processes generates additional revenues and results in lower energy costs.

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