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FlexI: Optimising Flexible Energy Use in Industry

2017-2021

A large part of renewably generated power is intermittent, uncertain, and uncontrollable. As balance between demand and generation is required at all times, flexibility in electricity demand is needed to prevent having significant costly flexible controllable generation (from fossil energy sources) on stand-by. Research and even some first pilot studies have been performed to use flexibility of heating, cooling, and (electrical vehicle) charging in households. However, industry in the Netherlands, using about three times more energy than households (CBS, 2013), offers far more promising opportunities by considering flexibility from all used carriers of energy.

The problem is that unleashing this potential of energy flexibility in industry (switching between energy carriers, using and sharing buffers for heat, steam, intermediate products, varying production, etc.) requires optimising the daily operations not just regarding throughput, but also to include making cost-effective energy trading decisions. We will develop algorithmic techniques to support both these decision problems under uncertainty.

Stakeholders are operators and business analysts of large industrial plants such as the chemical industry in the Port of Rotterdam, but also policy makers, utility companies, and port authorities to explore and enable better infrastructures and new business opportunities.