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The concept of flexibility in industrial electricity consumption is not new, but company managers tend to know little about its true value and how it can be monetized. Dynamic flexibility makes it possible to maximize self-consumption of on-site wind power. By extension, it can also serve other purposes, such as valorizing this flexibility on the energy market or maximizing self-consumption of other variable output renewable energy systems.
Two methods to assess the flexibility potential of industrial processes are discussed.
The first method – the ‘Flexibility Checklist’ – sets out ten criteria to assess the capacity of an industrial process to operate flexibly. Companies can score themselves against each criterion. The Flexibility Checklist provides a quick and easy assessment of potential problems that could arise when industrial processes are powered using on-site wind turbines, although it is not sufficiently rigorous to fully inform final decision-making.
The second method – the ‘Flexibility Audit’ – starts with a comprehensive assessment of an industrial site’s potential for flexibility and seeks to determine potential flexibilities right down to individual device level. The auditors adopt an open-minded approach so that they can uncover flexibility where it might not be anticipated. Data from the audit are combined with data on company power consumption and business processes to model optimum solutions. The Flexibility Audit requires greater commitment from the company, but delivers results that are built on tested data.
Researchers modeling with the Flexibility Checklist and the Flexibility Audit have identified strong business cases. From a technological point of view there are no insurmountable barriers to the concept and, if circumstances are favorable, flexible industrial processes powered by on site wind energy could be of real benefit to industrial companies daring to make the move.
(ECI Publication Cu0202)