REC-Businesspark - Investigation of the first Austrian renewable energy community business and industrial park
Due to the increasing share of renewable energy sources and decentralized supply structures in future energy systems as well as the linking of the electricity, heat and transport sector, flexibility and digital interconnection in the area of energy supply will be necessary. Buildings and building compounds are suitable for stabilizing the energy supply and will act as active nodes in decentralized energy systems of the future. Building compounds, such as business and industrial parks, which usually have above-average energy requirements, will play an important role for this purpose. Therefore, the project "REC-Businesspark" aims to conceptualize Austria's first "Renewable Energy Community business and industrial park" with a focus on photovoltaics and hydrogen. In order to intelligently link the various forms of energy and technologies (photovoltaics, fuel cells, etc.), an operating model is required, whose development is also a central component of the project.
In a first step, the initial situation of the business park (development plan, schedule of construction measures, etc.) was determined and the technical, legal and economic framework conditions of the relevant technologies and measures for the project (hydrogen filling station, electrolyser, energy community (E-EGe)) were worked out. At the same time, measures to involve stakeholders were carried out. A close exchange over the entire duration of the project was established between the project consortium and the stakeholders essential for the implementation of the business park. In addition, potential members of the E-EGe were identified and relevant data for the calculations was collected. On the basis of these framework conditions, several business, operating and tariff models were defined, which were then mapped and analysed in simulation models. The simulation model for calculating the energy allocation within the renewable energy community was developed in Python. The results of these calculations serve as basis for a detailed profitability analysis.
Systems of different dimensions were analysed. The variants with a hydrogen filling station including and excluding fuel cells refer to a complete system available on the market. These two variants are consumption oriented. The electrolyser was dimensioned in such a way that a sufficient amount of hydrogen is available for the planed vehicle fleet. In the variant with a hydrogen cogeneration unit, the focus is on generating larger amounts of electricity and heat with the aim of increasing the degree of self-sufficiency of the business park. To evaluate the hydrogen variants, they were also compared with a battery storage system.
The calculation results have shown that, under the current framework conditions, the desired hydrogen system for the business park in Weiz cannot be implemented economically. The reconversion of hydrogen into electricity is not economically viable due to the low overall efficiency of the entire process chain (hydrogen production, storage, reconversion). Even very advantageous tariff models for the electricity purchase from the E-EGe do not lead to an amortization.
The use of a hydrogen filling station without a fuel cell can also not be assessed positively from the economic point of view either. The short operating times due to the small amount of hydrogen required for the planed vehicle fleet (approximately 3 kg per day) as well as the limited availability of photovoltaic energy in the winter months do not enable economical operation. Additional hydrogen consumers could not be identified in Weiz. Furthermore, the minibuses favoured by the city of Weiz are not (yet) available on the market as a hydrogen variant. Any custom-made products that may be available in the next few years are associated with substantial additional costs.
Since the approach of the exploratory study to use photovoltaic energy to generate hydrogen within a renewable energy community turned out to be uneconomical, the approach was adapted. This procedure was chosen because some sub-concepts, like the E-EGe, showed great potential for the implementation in a plus-energy business park. In the original focus area - contrary to the planning - not several SMEs, but only one large company was settled. Since large companies are not allowed to participate in E-EGe, the project location has been changed.
The main difference to the original concept is that instead of the hydrogen filling station, a redox flow battery should be installed. This battery storage will be jointly used within the E-EGe. The main advantages of the redox flow technology are their longevity (> 25 years or > 15 000 charging cycles), the reusability of the electrolytes, their safety (non-flammable, insensitive to temperature) as well as the low self-discharge behaviour and a low storage degradation. In addition to the use to increase self-consumption within the E-EGe, other management strategies of the battery storage will also be examined in course of a future implementation project. For example, the use of the battery storage for the provision of control energy and for the purchasing optimization on the electricity marked will be investigated. For these applications, the battery storage should act in a flexibility pool. At times, when there is a shortage in the public power grid, photovoltaic surpluses can be marketed as positive control energy and thus increase the economic efficiency of the storage system. At times, when the public power grid shows a surplus, it is possible to obtain negative control energy.
In order to clarify open questions and to ensure further accompanying research, an implementation within the framework of "City of Tomorrow – Demonstration projects" was aspired. A submission in course of the 8th call for tenders was rated positively. The implementation project "EnErGy Plant Weiz - Renewable energy community Business Park Energy Lane and Factory Lane Weiz" will start at the beginning of 2022.
Weizer Energie- Innovations- Zentrum GmbH
Project or cooperation partners
- 4ward Energy Research GmbH
- Reiterer & Scherling GmbH