Innovative energy solutions: How modern technologies are revolutionising the industry

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Sustainable, CO2-efficient and a catalyst for an industry of the future that will play a pioneering role in international competition: Germany’s energy system is to become climate-neutral by 2045. However, the question of how this is to be achieved in industrial practice is still being discussed at many levels. The Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Climate Protection is convinced that a more efficient use of energy on the one hand and the continuous further expansion of renewable energies in the consumption sectors on the other are crucial to achieving the energy and climate policy goals (source: BMWK). Innovative energy storage technologies and analysis and forecasting methods based on artificial intelligence also play a crucial role in this context.

Thermal energy storage systems support the use of renewable energies

Thermal energy storage systems are a technology that skilfully combines the focal points of efficient energy use and the expansion of renewable energies. Fuelled by electricity generated from renewable sources, these flexible, cost-efficient solutions can store energy until it is released in the desired context or process – and thus successfully electrify many industrial processes. At the same time, the storage technology acts in a circular economy sense by absorbing waste heat, storing it and returning it to the processes in the form of heat or steam. With an storage solution such as the ThermalBattery™ from ENERGYNEST, companies are able to reduce their energy costs and emissions in the long term. On the one hand, the heat storage system increases energy efficiency in an industrial context – and at the same time offers a great deal of flexibility.

 

It was only last September that the market-leading packaging and materials manufacturer Avery Dennison put Europe’s largest concentrated solar thermal (CST) platform and thermal storage unit into operation in Turnhout, Belgium. A powerful duo: during operation, the entire system will supply heat equivalent to the gas consumption of 2.3 GWh and is expected to reduce the plant’s greenhouse gas emissions by an average of nine per cent per year compared to the status quo. In the summer months and when solar radiation is high, the plant will cover up to 100 per cent of the factory’s heating requirements.

 

ENERGYNEST’s thermal storage system was funded by the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme. Dr Christian Thiel, CEO of ENERGYNEST, is proud of the result: “Avery Dennison is a pioneer for a more sustainable and modern industrial sector in Europe. Companies across all industries are considering how best to reduce their reliance on fossil fuels and decarbonise emissions-intensive activities such as heat generation, while continuing to provide affordable, reliable goods and services to consumers. We will contribute to solving these problems by reducing energy costs, supporting the development of reliable renewables such as CST and decarbonising heat generation.”

 

The Norwegian chemical company and fertiliser manufacturer YARA is also relying on ENERGYNEST’s technology to balance local steam production and reduce the amount of excess steam discharged. The aim of the ThermalBattery™ is to minimise the waste of excess steam by initially storing the energy and releasing it immediately during short cyclical peaks in demand in the low-pressure steam network. This significantly reduces both costs and emissions by reducing the primary energy requirement.

Automation through AI

In addition to cutting-edge technologies, AI-based control and analysis tools in particular are making a decisive contribution to the success of an industrial heating transition. There is a great deal of interdisciplinary research into how artificial intelligence can be used in the energy industry and industrial heat supply, and with what added value. “The use of AI in the energy industry often not only makes business sense, but also serves above all to optimise the energy system, support the use of climate-friendly technologies and better satisfy customer needs,” writes the BDEW German Association of Energy and Water Industries in its study „Künstliche Intelligenz für die Energiewirtschaft“.

 

Dr Christoph Scholten, Head of the Digitalisation of the Energy Transition Department at the BMWi, states in this context: “In the future, we will see more and more AI components in all stages of the value chain. For these to interact successfully in the overall system, it is necessary to quickly build up knowledge in order to lay the foundation for a holistic strategy for the application of artificial intelligence for the energy industry.” (source: BMWK)

 

Specifically, in many areas it is about how artificial intelligence and its applications, including machine learning, can help to analyse and predict company and customer needs and usage behaviour based on data. In the case of thermal storage solutions such as the ThermalBattery™ from ENERGYNEST, for example, AI can be used to determine exactly when charging the battery with green electricity is particularly favourable during off-peak periods – and when and where which quantities of waste heat are generated in industrial processes, which in turn can be used for the heating cycle. Efficiency potential and synergies can also be determined accurately and precisely based on data.

Heat transition by 2045 realistic?

In view of Germany’s goal of achieving a climate-neutral energy and heat supply by 2045, there are great hopes for the industry – including thermal energy storage systems, which ideally combine the advantages of regeneratively generated electricity with the economic benefits of flexible, easily scalable heat generation and heat recovery. The fact that renewable energy can be utilised around the clock, regardless of when it is generated, with the help of a suitable storage solution such as the ThermalBattery™ from ENERGYNEST, is considered to be particularly groundbreaking. These advantages are particularly maximised against an economic background when, as in the case of Avery Dennison, other regenerative technologies such as concentrated solar thermal energy, which feeds the thermal storage system, are used. Finally, an in-house photovoltaic system can significantly reduce the procurement costs of green electricity.

 

Artificial intelligence is already being used in many areas for concrete planning and target definition. It enables data-based, well-founded forecasts and concepts that are customised and focus on the individual needs of each company. These are the best prerequisites for a successful heating transition. It remains to be seen how the technologies will continue to develop over the next two decades – and how Germany will benefit from this development as an industrial centre.

Are you interested in ENERGYNEST, or have any questions regarding our thermal energy storage solutions or our applications for your specific industry?

 

Don’t hesitate to drop us a line.

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