03.2022 - 06.2022

Electricity consumption modeling of the industrial sector in the context of decarbonization

The FfE has been commissioned by Germany’s four transmission network operators to develop a method with which to better depict industry’s current and future consumption of electricity, hydrogen, and hydrogen derivates at the district level in Germany. The project results will help to ensure plans for the continual development of the transmission network adequately consider the effects of industrial decarbonization. The transmission network operators must prepare a Grid Development Plan (GDP) every two years, with the method developed by the FfE set to be used in the creation of the GDP 2023.

At the core of the project is a regionalization of future industrial electrical consumption at the district level. Taking advantage of the FfE’s extensive database of industrial sites, current industrial electrical consumption is distributed with a high level of detail. The regional electricity consumption is differentiated according to electricity-intensive process and industry branch. First, the consumption from electricity-intensive processes is calculated on the basis of the production volumes per industrial site under consideration and the process-specific consumption. The remaining electricity consumption in the industrial sectors is then regionalized in an iterative procedure based on the number of employees per industry branch. This process maintains consistency with regional and national electricity consumption statistics, as well as with the reports of the transmission system operators on individual large consumers. The regionalization of future consumption of electricity, hydrogen, and hydrogen derivatives is based on the regional electricity and fuel consumption of the considered industry branches and individual processes determined in the status quo.

Before these future consumptions can be regionalized, they must first be determined. This analysis is performed with a transformation tool developed at the FfE, which includes the effects of both expected changes to production levels and the energetic changes caused by decarbonization technologies. To ensure a precise analysis, a selection of key industrial processes with particularly high fossil fuel consumption, and therefore a particularly high potential for transformation, are examined in further detail.

In addition to the yearly electricity consumption in the status-quo and in each transformation scenario, determining peak loads is also very relevant for grid expansion in the GDP. To enable such analysis, in this project the FfE used existing hourly industrial load curves for the entire year to develop hourly industrial load curves for different classes of standard days (e.g., weekday in summer, weekend in winter) in each branch of industry.

Figure 1: Mapped industrial sites of selected processes from the FfE’s database

Both direct electrification technologies such as heat pumps and electrode boilers and the use of hydrogen (energetically or as feedstock) offer significant decarbonization potential in the industrial sector. However, many of the technologies needed for the transformation of individual production processes are still being developed, or have not yet reached market maturity. This currently prevents the final determination of a technology mix, with many branches of industry still considering which technology offers the optimal solution. Reflecting this, recent energy system studies display a significant range of projected future electrical and hydrogen consumption levels. To take this into account, this project will consider two future scenarios – an “electric world” and a “hydrogen world”, each dominated by maximum practical implementation of the given technology.

While the resulting regionalized consumption levels are the primary output of this project, the knowledge transfer between the project partners was a second major goal. Thanks to the FfE’s expertise in industrial topics, the network operators gained a better understanding of key industrial processes and the decarbonization pathways relevant to each branch. Through frequent interaction over the entire duration of the project and extensive documentation, the ÜNB also gained “a look under the hood” of the regionalization and transformation methods employed by the FfE. By sharing this expertise, the FfE helps to improve modeling of industrial consumption not only in the upcoming GDP, but for years to come.