Research institutes from the energy-intensive basic materials industry (steel, chemicals, glass, cement and refractory products) formed a consortium under the name INFLUX to analyse the challenges of the energy transition throughout the basic materials industries and to describe technological potential for flexible energy use. The SynErgie consortium won the tender for a Kopernikus research project. With the involvement of VDZ, part of the original INFLUX consortium was integrated into Cluster V "Potential Analysis" in the SynErgie project. This part of the project is now receiving additional funding.
In the course of the research project, a cross-industry approach to the determination of flexibility potential was developed and adapted to the needs of the basic materials industry. A particular feature of the processes in the basic materials industries is the predominant use of heat energy and the considerable dependence of product quality on the process employed. With regard to the processes in the basic materials industries it is therefore extremely important to identify flexibility potential which is compatible with the processes and can be achieved as far as possible without any negative consequences for production volume and production quality. Further conflicting aims are the desire to make a process as flexible as possible, but also as efficient as possible. A distinction was made between currently available flexibility potential and future flexibility perspectives, which could be achieved through the use of new technologies, the overcoming of obstacles or a change in boundary conditions.
In the cement industry, the greatest potential for flexible load management exists in the area of material comminution by shifting electrical energy use in time. This applies in particular to cement grinding. Boundary conditions relating to production and storage capacities as well as organisational and economic questions were taken into consideration in model development. The study encompassed aspects of company internal organisation (order planning, shift planning, etc.) and of the market environment with regard to customer relations, seasonality and capacity for product delivery. Further investigations into possible flexibilisation should focus in particular on the effects on cement properties. Process flexibilisation must not deteriorate the quality of the standardised products (DIN EN 197-1). It is also necessary to determine, and ultimately provide economic compensation for, the additional personnel, technical effort and wear involved with flexibilisation.