Reviewing Flexibility in Industrial Electrification: Focusing on Green Ammonia and Steel in the United States

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Abstract

The renewable energy transition in the power sector involves a paradigm shift for flexibility. Flexible demand is more attainable than before, while supply flexibility faces new constraints due to the increased share of variable renewable resources. Increased demand flexibility can allow less use of peaking power plants and avoid need for additional capacity. Industrial flexibility could be especially interesting in this regard, as industrial customers are larger on average than other customers and have typically provided the largest share of demand response in the United States. We consider industrial demand, studying characteristics of flexible industrial loads. We then examine the dynamics of change occurring around industrial load flexibility by focusing on two case studies: green ammonia and steel production via electric arc furnaces. Electric arc furnace steel production is an important component of current demand response programs, whereas green ammonia and green fuels offer new paradigms for flexibility. We analyze the structure and functions of the technological innovation systems of load flexibility in those two industries via interviews with twenty-two stakeholders. We conclude that in the United States these technological innovation systems are not well-functioning for industry in general or for steel, but do seem to be present for green ammonia. Additionally, explicit connections between scope two greenhouse gas emissions (those from purchased energy) and flexibility are lacking, and likewise industry stakeholders do not appear to make a connection between decarbonization and load flexibility, thus flexible demand is not viewed as a tool in industrial decarbonization.

Original languageAmerican English
Article number103202
Number of pages16
JournalEnergy Research and Social Science
Volume103
DOIs
StatePublished - 2023

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2023

NREL Publication Number

  • NREL/JA-6A20-84179

Keywords

  • Flexibility
  • Green Ammonia
  • Industry
  • Steel
  • Technological innovation systems

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