Responding to seasonal energy fluctuations – learnings from an on-going study

Other news 8.3.2021 2:00 EET

High seasonal fluctuations in renewable energy supply pose challenges for power grid operators as well as large industrial energy consumers. An article by Plattlinger Zeitung explores how the energy system of the future could work.

Tightening climate targets and sustainability goals urge energy consumers and grid operators to shift their mindset towards green energy sources. However, large industrial consumers face practical challenges in transitioning to renewable energy. One critical aspect is the high seasonal fluctuation in solar and wind energy supply, resulting in significant electricity price changes. The fluctuating supply poses challenges also to power grid operators, trying to match supply and demand optimally.  

The changing energy landscape attracts different energy market players to learn more about the ideal energy systems of the future. In December 2020, the German newspaper Plattlinger Zeitung published an article about the InflexLab project, which is a collaboration between a grid operator, an energy economics research center, and UPM Communication Papers’ paper mill in Germany. The project was initiated to explore the future of the energy landscape and involve large-scale industry players. 

How to solve the challenges of the fluctuating renewable energy supply?  

The article sheds light on how large industrial plants could be part of the solution. UPM’s paper mill in Plattling has been a model example by creating a flexible energy supply and consumption process. In summer, with high solar power availability, the plant increases its renewable energy use from the public grid and reduces its own power plant production. In winter, with a lower solar power supply and higher regional electricity consumption, UPM generates more energy in its own power plant, feeding also into the grid. 

The article highlights that this flexibility is a positive factor for the grid operators as it reduces grid bottlenecks and the need for grid expansion in the region. In a way, the UPM paper mill acts as a seasonal energy balancer, which can be more efficient and cheaper than using a large battery storage system. 

Rainer Häring, Director Energy at UPM Communication Papers, comments in the article that at all UPM mills, they are expanding their know-how and technical capabilities for modern energy management to meet the changed conditions resulting from the energy transition.  

Digitalisation and automation play a crucial role in succeeding to adjust the energy consumption and supply flexibly to the seasonal fluctuations. To transition into fully digitalised energy management and trading processes, industrial companies often need a partner experienced in combining industrial processes with the energy markets. UPM Energy’s Beyond Spot service helps companies in digitalising their energy processes and optimising the energy costs. With decades of experience in the energy markets, the UPM Energy experts are happy to discuss how energy optimisation could benefit your company. 

Read the full story on the Plattlinger Zeitung website.   

Interested in hearing how energy optimisation could help your company? With decades of experience in energy markets, the UPM Energy experts are happy to continue the discussion. Contact us now!