Money saver for energy guzzler -- Onsite wind generation at foundry

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Germany's Synlift Systems has set up a new business division to help energy intensive industrial companies establish onsite wind power plants to meet their electricity needs. Its first project involves a medium-sized zinc foundry in the state of Brandenburg in eastern Germany. While the client's name remains confidential, an 850 kW wind turbine could meet up to 65% of the foundry's electricity needs, says a feasibility study, but only if greater energy efficiency measures are implemented.

The foundry could make substantial savings long term on its energy bills, says Synlift, based in Berlin. Electricity generated by the turbine will cost around EUR 0.083/kWh, Synlift says, instead of the EUR 0.11/kWh market price the foundry currently pays. In addition, any surplus power generated can be exported into the national network, with the foundry receiving EUR 0.092/kWh under Germany's renewable energy law. The law allows for a company to generate its own electricity and sell surplus to the grid if there is a sub-network connecting generator and consumer and it is linked to the national grid.

To maximise potential, Synlift recommends the foundry install an additional furnace. Melting the metal is what uses most energy at the foundry, says Synlift's Joachim Käufler. "Simply raising the temperature of the melted metal a degree or two does not take much electricity," he says, so it makes sense to add a new melting furnace which can melt extra metal when the wind is blowing hard, effectively "storing" wind power. The additional melted metal can be used when the wind is not blowing so strongly, reducing the electricity that has to be procured on the market. A planning application for the foundry project is due to be submitted soon but approval could take up to two years.

Until now Synlift has focused on wind-powered seawater desalination plants. It is a division of the Renergiepartner Group, set up in Eberswalde in Brandenburg in 2001. Renergiepartner has developed and built 75.1 MW of wind capacity in Germany.

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