In an energy system increasingly characterized by volatile feed-in of renewable energies, electricity consumption no longer represents an unchangeable variable and it is to be expected that some segments of electricity consumption in Germany – especially in industry – will be increasingly flexibly aligned with the supply of electricity generation in the future. In order to take this into account within the framework of the Network Development Plan for Electricity (NEP), which serves as the demand analysis as well as the study on the security of supply in Germany and Europe, a joint expert opinion was prepared by the Forschungsgesellschaft für Energiewirtschaft mbH (FfE) and Guidehouse for the transmission system operators (TSOs).
The focus was on the consumption sectors industry as well as trade, commerce and services (GHD). In three scenarios, the report categorized and quantified both current and future load management potentials up to 2045 and determined their regional and temporal availability. In addition, these were validated in more detail via industry and expert interviews, particularly for the short- to medium-term time horizon.
In the base year 2019, there is a positive load management potential of 1.2 GW for a call-up period of one hour, which is currently provided by industrial processes in the aluminum, paper, and chemical sectors that have been prequalified under the Ordinance on Disconnectable Loads (AbLaV). To describe the development of future potential, in addition to a basic scenario based on the study “Climate-Neutral Germany 2050,” there is also a scenario with increased use of hydrogen and a scenario characterized by a high level of electrification. By 2045, there is a significant increase of potential load management available in all scenarios, reaching up to 13.5 GW in 2045 as seen in the following figure.
By category, industrial cross-section technologies and in particular the tertiary sector, especially data centers, become increasingly important. Their potential is expected to exceed that of industrial processes from 2035. The result of the regionalization in the next figure shows the regional differences in the amount and categorical composition of the load management potentials between the scenarios.
The temporal availability of the load management potentials is particularly given if the technologies have a high average utilization at production times. Based on a literature analysis, the costs of flexibility call-ups are differentiated according to the type of flexibility call-up, i.e. load shifting, load reduction, and load disconnection. It is shown that for all industrial processes, different flexibility potentials can be called up at different costs – lower potentials at lower costs (in the range of a few hundred EUR/MWh) and significantly higher potentials if a production outage is accepted and the call-up costs are thus significantly higher (in the range of 1,000 EUR/MWh). For cross-section technologies and in the commercial sector, an analogous distinction is made between different flexibility potentials at different cost levels. Here, the call-up costs for load shifting or reduction are consistently very low, since an influence of the flexibility call-up on production is excluded. For load shedding, higher potentials are also found in the areas of cross-section technologies and trade, with correspondingly significantly higher call-up costs.