Making power consumption meet supply

Project state
Before waste can be recycled, it has to be sorted and analysed. This happens in sorting plants such as this one. Image: ALBA Group

Renewables lead to fluctuating feed-in. This leads to more grid interventions and shutdown operations. The solution: adapting demand to generation. For example, with controllable loads in industrial enterprises. The possibilities of the recycling and waste management industry are being researched by scientists of the Energy Management team of the ALBA Group in collaboration with the Technical University of Berlin.

The aim of the research project EnvirA-Management4Grid is to demonstrate the possibilities and limits of the load management of environmental facilities in the area of recycling and waste management for grid stabilisation purposes. The special thing about this project is: for the first time, the researchers are taking a real-world look at the relationship between waste composition, recycling volumes and energy demand as required for the technical and environmental process steps involved. Once they have the results, they can then create the backbone of a load management tool for disposal facilities. This backbone, named EnvirA-Management4Grid, is based on the energy monitoring system EnvirA view and is a simple test system for grid-relevant load changes of connected equipment. The findings of the research project, with participation of the Technical University of Berlin, will lay the foundation for this. Structured theoretical and practical examinations, such as the analysis of historical data, the addition of supplementary measurements and the simulation of selected processes, are being carried out in the facilities of the ALBA Group.

The EnvirA view software in use at a sorting plant. | Image: ALBA Group

The first step is to determine the impact that the nature and the composition of the material has on the specific energy consumption, and to examine processes in the plants in terms of load management potential. These findings will constitute the work product of the first phase of the project (see Figure 1). The facilities of the ALBA Group feature many of the waste management processes typical for the industry, for example in the areas of plastic, paper, construction, metal, and residual waste recycling, which are particularly suitable for the project. For each process, a requirements analysis is created, with which the suitability of the various processes and units are evaluated as flexible loads (first project phase). Based on these results, a highly simplified load management tool will be developed and implemented together with metrological equipment, and then be tested in selected processes of the facilities (second phase). Finally, the load flexibility potential of the German recycling and waste management industry can be estimated with these results (third phase of the project).

EnvirA-Management4Grid project phases at a glance.
EnvirA-Management4Grid project phases at a glance. | Image: ALBA Group

Manual proposals as precursors to automatic timetables

The tool, developed during the research project EnvirA-Management4Grid, will initially not carry out any automated shutdowns or load shifts, but suitably visualise load management potentials and suggest plant timetables to the plant operator. A further development towards a fully automated solution with the corresponding business models, such as participation in the balancing energy market, is not provided in the project; however, it does represent a medium and long-term goal following a successful completion of the project. EnvirA-Management4Grid is a development in the priority area of load flexibility in large industries to better integrate renewable energy sources. Since an exchange of many data with other actors of the electricity market - including transmission system operators and energy utilities - is supposed to take place, the project also encompasses the further development of interfaces between distribution grid operators and consumers. For this purpose, “Vattenfall Innovation” are involved in the project as associated partners.

With EnvirA-Management4Grid, a load management system is being created that can integrate disposal facilities in a smart grid. The creation of these smart subsystems for distributed and cross-locational processes and plant control based on current and projected grid loads helps to bolster security of supply and to lower the costs of the energy transition.

Project duration

05/2015 – 04/2018


Holk Schubert
Project coordinator
ALBA Environmental Solutions GmbH
Franz-Josef-Schweitzer-Platz 1
16727 Velten
+49 30 35182-9670


Project management:
ALBA Energiemanagement (German)

Scientific support:
TU Berlin

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