Synchronized and energy adaptive production technology for flexible alignment of industrial processes towards a fluctuating energy supply

Especially energy-intensive industries can no longer count on available electricity when it is required. Research institutes should help energy-intensive companies in the understanding of future electricity usage and availability.

Augsburg turns​​ into a model region for energy flexibility

The consortium called „SynErgie“, in which the Project Group “Business and Information Systems Engineering” of the Fraunhofer FIT in Augsburg und Bayreuth, the Project Group “RMV” of the Fraunhofer IWU in Augsburg, the Technical University of Munich and the University of Bayreuth are decisively involved, has been awarded by the Federal Ministry of Education and Research. In the first three years of the calculated ten year project a support of 30 million Euro is granted. ”SynErgie” is one of four nationwide projects within the framework of the funding initiative “Kopernikus projects for the energy transition” and the only project within the funding line “Alignment of industrial processes to fluctuating energy supply”. The consortium is focused on the question how flexible energy-intensive industrial processes as power consumers can utilize the volatile supply of renewable energies and at the same time are able to stabilize the future electricity market. The project “SynErgie” was awarded after a panel of experts considered nominations, over 40, received from research facilities in Germany. The project “SynErgie” has successfully competed against over 40 applications.

Besides the Project Group Business & Information Systems Engineering, which is represented by Prof. Dr. Buhl (University of Augsburg) and Prof. Dr. Fridgen (University of Bayreuth) and the Fraunhofer IWU, which is represented by Prof. Dr. Reinhart, another 19 research centers from the RWTH Aachen over the Universities of Cologne, Chemnitz, Darmstadt, Karlsruhe and Stuttgart as well as the Technical University of Munich are involved. Furthermore, 40 industrial enterprises/companies from all energy intensive sectorsare actively participating in the consortium. The undertaking of the consortium is supported within the funding line “Alignment of industrial processes to fluctuating energy supply”, which has the aim to integrate energy-intensive industrial processes in the future energy system in order to use and balance the increasing volatility in supply triggered by renewable energies in the electricity market. In particular the energy-intensive industry must learn to use electricity when it is available and cost-efficiently and at the same time has to renounce the use of scarce and expensive energy. As a result of the changing energy system, the electricity supply cannot follow the electricity demand anymore. In fact the customer demand must adapt to the electricity supply. At this point especially the energy-intensive branches play an essential role in the energy system.

Professor Dr. Buhl, Professor Dr. Fridgen and their research assistants succeeded in winning companies like Dr. Oetker, Siemens and UPM for a co-operation. All of them are reliable and well-known firms in the Elite Graduate Program Finance and Information Management at the universities of Augsburg, Bayreuth and the TU Munich. Furthermore, companies like Bayer/Covestro, Enerstorage, SGL Carbon, the energy exchange of Leipzig and Paris as well as the Wieland-Werke could be won for a co-operation in energy research in the framework of SynErgie.

Professor Reinhart and his assistants were able to contribute their experience and their network of the previous project „FOREnergy“, supported by the Bavarian Research Foundation (s., with great success. In addition to the already mentioned energy-intensive giants, companies like WACKER Chemie, MAN Diesel & Turbo, BMW and production software companies like SALT Solutions, Software4Production and Bosch Rexroth were brought on board as partners of the project “SynErgie“. Moreover, it was possible to integrate transfer partners like cluster mechatronics und automation, local unions and the „Stadtwerke Augsburg” in the project.

A special feature of the consortium SynErgie is the subproject “Augsburg as a model region for energy flexibility” /”Energy-adaptable model region Augsburg”. For this subproject 21 organizations like the city of Augsburg, IHK Schwaben as well as representatives of civil society, for example the Bund Naturschutz in Bayern e.V., joined forces. Aim of the association is to examine and value the behavior and impact of energy-adaptable major consumers for the region Augsburg, considering communal conditions, chances, risks and consequences of flexible industrial processes in a regional electricity system. The focus is on the effects on the technosphere (companies’ different sizes), ecosphere (environment, contribution to energy transition) as well as soziosphere (society und policy). The model region Augsburg is important to identify the transferability of the system to other areas and at the same time tries to deduce central factors for a successful implementation. Within the framework of SynErgie the location Augsburg gains a pioneer role relating to the energy transition.

The unique synergetic composition of leading research facilities, companies with energy-intensive processes, representatives of the electricity market, IT providers and representatives of the civil society was decisively for the success of the consortium among more than 40 written applications. The synergetic composition enables not only a transdisciplinary exploration/investigation of new foundations but also an industrial implementation and social acceptance of the developed solutions.

First aim of the project is to identify industrial key processes which energy requirement can be adapted regarding economic aspects. These are supposed to compensate fluctuating energy supply. Finally, efficient procedures and technologies should be developed for industrial key processes and be tested in the basis of pilot plants. Due to the digitalization of industry and work processes, structures of information and communication technology are utilized to steer the compensation of supply and demand in the grid. Interlinking the individual operators/players (for example electricity generators, electricity market, consumers, transmission operators and meteorological services) by means of interlinked information systems to enable the automated adaption of the electricity consumption is focused. Therefore, a continuous regulation of the energy demand from the single photovoltaic module or wind turbine to the production process is targeted.

The Consortium SynErgie gets an annual funding volume of 10 million Euro in the first three years. Each of the four Kopernikus projects has prospects for a funding period up to ten years with a funding volume to the extent of 100 million Euro.