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Interview with Arne Grein, Head of Energy Markets
Reducing energy costs with flexible energy management
Arne Grein, expert for energy markets, shares his assessment of the current situation and gives tips that companies should consider for future-relevant decisions. Various mechanisms of flexible energy management are available for this purpose, with which companies can reduce their energy costs and increase the security of supply at the site.
The interview appeared in the new guide published by the Federation of German Food and Drink Industries (BVE) “Successfully implementing ambitious climate protection – on the way to climate neutrality”. This was developed in collaboration with ÖKOTEC and the ZNU (Center for Sustainable Corporate Management) as part of the climate protection campaign “PlusPlus Principle” and was presented at the international Green Week.
Where does Germany stand in the energy transition and how can companies reduce energy costs?
Germany has set itself the goal of converting energy efficiency and expanding renewable energies into an electricity-based system by 2045. Power plants in Germany are gradually being shut down and renewable energies are being expanded. Fluctuating feed-in in particular creates high price volatility on the electricity market. This harbors risks and opportunities. For the energy transition to succeed and be ecologically and economically viable for all players, the continuous balancing of generation and consumption must be supported by all market participants.
Various flexible energy management mechanisms are available for this purpose, enabling companies to reduce their energy costs and increase security of supply at the site. And these are the topics that have become highly relevant for businesses in recent months, especially when energy costs account for a large proportion of total business costs.
The Energy Security of Supply Act and other instruments are intended to better cushion supply shortages and price increases in the future, but it calls for new requirements and obligations, especially for larger companies, in terms of monitoring energy volumes and action management for energy efficiency. However, knowledge of medium- and long-term energy demand quantities and their influencing factors is also very useful for future energy planning and energy procurement.
Head of Energy Markets
“By systematically analyzing and optimizing consumption, energy management and energy purchasing can jointly leverage savings potential.”
What approaches do you see for flexible energy management in industrial companies?
Many systems at the site have flexibility potential. For example, generation plants such as combined heat and power plants, biomass plants, and supply plants such as ventilation and fans are suitable for flexible on-site operation. In the case of deep-freeze and refrigeration systems, there is also enormous thermal flexibility. Effects between compressors and chillers can be modeled to provide high flexibility, chillers are more likely to be generated during low-price hours, and compressors run in more efficient states.
Battery storage can be used to improve the utility of photovoltaic systems, and load smoothing is possible to achieve the 7,000 full-use hours required by Section 19 of the Electricity Grid Charges Ordinance (StromNEV). For companies with large vehicle fleets, the expansion of electromobility with battery storage can be an attractive action. Furthermore, the management of hybrid systems is possible if companies use new technologies such as heat pumps for gas substitution in addition to existing boilers.
The starting points and potentials differ from company to company and should be examined and evaluated as part of a holistic approach. In times of volatile energy markets and high price fluctuations, resilient data also support communication between energy purchasing and energy suppliers by enabling them to report forecasts for balancing energies to your energy supplier.
The basis for successfully implementing flexible energy management in operations is the use of intelligent software systems that manage the flexibility potential of digitized consumers with the energy market.
What are the first steps when a company wants to start with the topic of flexible energy management and what success factors help with implementation?
The first step should be to examine which options for improved use of forecast data or intraday energy quantity billing are already included in the existing electricity contract.
The supply contract is the basis for flexible energy management activities. If there is already a provision for spot-price-based billing of a fixed portion of the electricity supply or requirements for transmitting current electricity demand or generation planning to the energy supplier, it should be analyzed at which points the functionalities of an energy controlling system can be better incorporated into the billing process. As a rule, there is already potential for improvement simply through continuous data evaluation and through transparent calculation steps, as well as an increase in the degree of automation. Here, energy management and energy purchasing can leverage synergies through close cooperation.
In parallel, it is of course also important to understand what the current operating mode of possible flexible systems currently looks like in order to be able to draw further conclusions about optimization potential. On this basis, alternative operating strategies can then be calculated or simulated before implementation takes place. If there is not yet a component of active flexible energy management in the electricity supply, then this should be included in the discussions in the next tender for the energy supply.
More information on reducing energy costs and flexible energy management
For the ninth time, around 60 people from industrial and commercial companies, experts from ÖKOTEC and partner companies met at the annual user conference for our Energy efficiency monitoring software, EnEffCo®. In addition to an overview of developments relating to EnEffCo®, user companies shared successful projects from the field, including smart dashboards, flexibility and Peak Load Management and the optimization of the operational management of a CHP plant.
The food industry requires a lot of heat and cold. The aim of the Food Pinch research project is to use heat and cold more efficiently and to put waste heat flows to further use. Researchers are developing and testing a dynamic pinch analysis for this purpose.