Home Barriers to the energy cooperation and solutions Technical/Engineering Perspective barriers
Knowledge of and access to technology
Up-to-date information of the state of development and standardised benchmarks of established technologies and energy cooperation services would lead to multiple adoption of energy efficient equipment and cooperation services by other firms and therefore to reduced energy consumption in general.
Low adoption rate and lack of technical knowledge
Most companies are waiting before investing in new technologies or agreeing in an energy cooperation unless other firms have successfully adopted it and reliability, quality and profitability are proved.
As a result, low diffusion rates reduce the chance of gathering useful information about new concepts and thus lead to missed opportunities for people to gain valuable technological experience.
Lack of feasibility study
The implementation of new energy efficient technologies or mutual energy services among companies require proper feasibility studies, life cycle analysis, technological forecasting, etc.
If no feasibility study regarding the new technology or cooperation is conducted, the uncertainty of the expected technical success lets companies hesitate and can hamper a potential implementation.
Suitability of technical parameters for cooperation
The clustered barrier “technical“ performance discusses performance characteristics and reliability of energy technologies and energy cooperation services.
One of the essential stages for the evaluation if energy cooperation is promising is to identify the input and output streams of energy and waste of possibly participating companies. Thereby, the technical suitability of residuals such as by-products or heat streams for further usage are analysed and potential fields of application evaluated.
Insufficient technology maturity
Unproven new technologies and untested solutions and examples hamper their potential implementation within a company. Before a new technology is adopted by an enterprise, a thorough analysis concerning its maturity is conducted to prove functionality and reliability in order to avoid malfunctions and downtimes.
To support the maturity measurement of a technology, Mankins has introduced the Technology Readiness Level (TRL)1.
In the TRL measurement scheme, nine readiness levels (TRL 1 to TRL 9) serve as support for the maturity assessment.
1. Mankins, J. (1995) ‘Technology Readiness Level‘.
Production disruptions imply monetary losses due to lost production volumes and may have negative implications on product quality.
A continuous operation without any production disruptions is one of the most important factors for enterprises; this especially applies when new technologies or energy cooperation are planned or implemented.
The implementation of a new technology or energy cooperation within an existing and reliably running system of a company implies numerous risks.
After installation, new technologies have to be monitored and reconfigured regularly to meet disruption free and high quality production.
Inappropriate technologies and intermittency
In general, renewable energy technologies have a lower energy flux (energy output per unit floor area), compared to fossil fuel fired technologies.
Furthermore, the fluctuating supply of some renewables like solar or wind, which requires additional energy storage devices to provide continuous energy supply, is a further disadvantage.
Renewable energy sources such as solar or wind depend on weather conditions. This leads to fluctuations during energy production and therefore in energy supply.
Thus, a balance between energy supply and demand is required to ensure a secure energy provision.
During times of no or low energy production, the energy storage provides sufficient and reliable energy supply, and stores excess energy in times of high energy production. Many energy storage technologies have evolved over the last century.
In general, their aim is to store energy for use on demand. However, as of the intermittency of some renewable energy sources like solar or wind, energy storage technologies play a key role in providing continuous energy supply of such energy sources. With the combination of an energy storage and a volatile renewable energy source, the problems of fluctuating supply can be removed.
Smart grid, microgrid and prosumer communication
Currently, a conventional power grid is only designed for distribution and transmission of energy and the consumer is not actively involved.
In contrast, a smart grid is “an advanced power system with integrated communication infrastructure to enable bidirectional flow of energy and “information“2.
2. Zafara, R., Mahmood, A., Razzaqc, S. and Alia, W. et al. (2017) ‘Prosumer based energy management and sharing in smart grid‘: 1675–84
ISO 50001- energy management system
With the support of an energy management system (EMS), a better management of energy use in enterprises and for cooperation among firms is achieved. This might include the implementation or sharing of new more efficient technologies, by-product usage, smart energy communication or waste stream reduction.
The aim of this is to reduce cost, to protect the environment, to use sustainable resources, to improve public image, to use legal advantages and to help reaching the climate goals.
The ISO 50001 (International Organisation for Standardisation) defines an energy management system (EMS) as “a set of interrelated or interacting elements to stablish an energy policy and energy objectives, and processes and procedures to achieve those objectives”3. This framework allows companies to follow a systematic approach for continuous improvement of energy performance with respect to energy efficiency, energy use and consumption.
3. International Organization for Standardization ISO 50001:2011(en), Energy management systems — Requirements with guidance for use, accessed 8 Aug 2018.
Lack of monitoring and measuring
Many firms have a lack of energy monitoring and measuring equipment as well as no tools that show them the benefits of efficiency improvements. This can be attributed to the fact that the cost of monitoring and measuring performance are not covering financial benefits.
However, sub-metering and sub-monitoring have been identified as useful tools to find energy efficiency opportunities within companies. Especially departments with high energy consumption can be detected and their efficiency can be enhanced.
Complexity of big data analysis, forecast and optimisation
Due to the enormous volume of information which is gathered during monitoring andmeasuring, high demands on computer performance like computational time and stability are made. In particular this is true for microgrid EMSs, where a two-way communication to other controllers is required.
Currently, many approaches for the optimisation of EMSs of microgrids exist. They use diverse algorithms for linear or nonlinear programming, heuristic and stochastic methods, model predictive control, as well as artificial intelligent attempts.
However, all management approaches are still in development stage which has to be considered as a technical barrier. Currently, many approaches for the optimisation of EMSs of microgrids exist. They use diverse algorithms for linear or nonlinear programming, heuristic and stochastic methods, model predictive control, as well as artificial intelligent attempts.
However, all management approaches are still in development stage which has to be considered as a technical barrier.
Cyber security and privacy issues
Through the application of EMS among more than one enterprises, the indispensable transfer of sensible energy information between enterprises has to be appropriately dealt with.
Therefore, it is unavoidable to use appropriate security and privacy methods to secure the data of each party.
Physical fitment and distribution
The implementation of new technologies or energy cooperation often requires additional infrastructure on-site.
Enterprises cannot generate clean energy, if they have no space left for installing renewable energy sources like solar, wind or biomass.
Moreover, a new technology cannot be integrated in an existing production system, if there is insufficient physical space available. Thus, the non-availability of sufficient space can hinder the replacement of obsolete technology with a more energy efficient one.
Missing Electronic Data Processing (EDP) infrastructure
For this purpose, own EDP equipment helps to meet the high requirements, but causes infrastructure and personnel cost. Besides investing in general information technology (IT) infrastructure like computers and servers, infrastructure in form of smart monitoring and measuring devices such as sensors, actors and meters as well as communication technologies is beneficial.
Process temperature requirements
One of the approaches to decrease greenhouse gas emissions and increase ecological sustainability of industrial parks is to use renewables instead of fossil fuels.
For some renewable technologies it is challenging to fulfil the temperature, pressure and quantities of heat required for some industrial processes.
Complexity and design effort
This increases the expenditures on design and results in a major barrier. For the integration different parameters must be considered.
E.g. it has to be distinguished between integration into the supply- (e.g. centralized boiler) or into the process level (e.g. pasteurization process). Furthermore, the utilized heat transfer medium at supply as well as the type of heat load at process level has to be taken into account.
These complex circumstances require experts, which have specific knowledge about the processes.
Lack of supply chains
Some renewable technologies cannot be installed due to the lack of supply chains for fuel like for example biomass from agricultural residues.
Integration into grown structures is mostly more costly than into new constructions. If for example an existing steam network should be supplied by renewable heat, the temperature requirements are too high, as it was designed for conventional heat supply.
Lack of efficiency
Low efficiency in technology and building stock results in higher heat peak loads. It has been shown that the integration of a solar heating system for process heat supply after total exploitation of all available conventional efficiency measures is even more reasonable than in the residential sector.
Contaminations in the excess heat stream can limit the opportunities of utilization. The composition and temperature of the excess heat stream have a high impact on the technical and economic feasibility of the project.
Highly reactive compounds as well as stringent hygiene condition may require more advanced materials for heat exchangers, which increases the costs significantly.
Additionally, large heat exchanger areas are needed for low temperature heat recovery which also has a negative impact on costs.
Lack of suitable end-users
The temperature level of the process heat demand varies widely in the different industrial sectors, between approximately 60°C for cleaning processes and far above 1000°C in iron, steel, glass or ceramics industry.
For low quality excess heat normally, there is a lack of on-site demand. There are technologies to create possible end use options, e.g. electricity production from low temperature excess heat with ORC or Kalina cycle.
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