Dr. Nick Depree
Head of Technology, EnPot
Decarbonisation of aluminium production by Demand Side Response
Baseload energy consumption by primary aluminium smelters is rapidly becoming less valuable to power grid operation and stability due to the increasing penetration of variable renewable energy (VRE). For global industry to decarbonise, many smelters must find pathways to reduce their dependence on thermal baseload generation. One such pathway is power modulation and the retrofittable EnPot technology can now enable ±20% modulation at any time, allowing smelters to increase the use of VRE in their energy mix, or for them to help firm VRE in national grids. Decarbonising power systems provide by far the greatest driver to reduce carbon footprints and firming of VRE via smelter modulation is the cheapest way to achieve this, thereby attracting governmental attention and potential funding. A detailed analysis of two energy markets (coal versus hydro-dominated) showed that beyond the decarbonisation benefits, modulation is also economically advantageous both to smelters and energy providers, and opens the door to new contractual scenarios to share this value.
Nick leads the design and development of EnPot technology. He was deeply involved in the original research and plant trials undertaken by the Light Metals Research Centre at the University of Auckland, New Zealand, as well as the full commercial installation in Germany. He has experience in many aspects of aluminium smelting, particularly process control, modelling, and data analysis.