Driven by the growth of renewable energies, decentralization of energy production, a transition from traditional consumers to prosumers, as well as a growing digitalization, the present energy system faces major challenges and changes. Smart grids provide the opportunity to overcome these challenges in energy systems.
The role of the consumer is in particular focus since, for example, the more widespread use of wind and solar power requires energy management to be given a more significant role in homes, buildings, and industries. The intermittency and unpredictability of renewable power generation is in sharp contrast to traditional power generation. With power coming entirely or almost entirely from the latter assets, up till now system operators have been able to keep the grid balanced by adjusting generation in real-time in response to fluctuating demand. With unpredictability now extending to generation, imbalances in the grid may impair grid reliability or cause energy price fluctuations. Consequently, industrial facilities tend to transform their infrastructure from a ‘consumer only’ to a ‘prosumer’ energy system. Onsite energy production, consumption and storage on the one hand, as well as an increasingly complex interface to the energy system on the other hand, call for an advanced onsite grid and energy-focused production management.
Industrial smart grids combine the key aspects of energy storage, energy production and the grid interface, energy-optimized production control, as well as an interconnected infrastructure. Goals include cost-efficient energy supply, energy reliability and sustainable production, using flexibility and efficiency as levers.