Aluminium smelters have the potential to solve this storage problem and integrate fluctuating electricity generation from renewable energies into the electricity grid. To facilitate the understanding of this concept, it helps to take a closer look at aluminium extraction.
Aluminium is obtained through an electrolysis process in which electric current converts aluminium oxide into metallic aluminium. To ensure the success of this process, conventional electrolytic furnaces require a constant energy supply – 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. For even small fluctuations in the energy supply can massively reduce energy efficiency and even ruin production facilities.
TRIMET has developed a process which can adjust the aluminium smelters’ electricity needs to the electricity quantity currently available, compensating for fluctuations in the power grid during ongoing production. As a result, the output of the electrolytic furnaces can be either increased or reduced by 25 percent for up to 48 hours. This flexible load management stabilizes the power grid and integrates CO2-free energy.