Press Release

Full steam ahead for the energy transition: Aurubis inaugurates new power-to-steam plant

Hamburg | Thursday, August 22, 2019

  • Plant transforms power supply system’s excess electricity from renewable energies into steam, which is utilized in production
  • Largest plant in the German non-ferrous metals industry
  • Pilot project of the large-scale project NEW 4.0

In the presence of Hamburg’s Environmental Senator Jens Kerstan, Aurubis AG inaugurated a state-of-the-art power-to-steam plant at its headquarters in Hamburg today.

The plant transforms the power supply system’s excess electricity, which is produced from renewable energies, into steam. This steam can be utilized in the multi-metal producer’s production processes – to dry copper concentrates, for instance – and thus replaces some of the steam that has to be produced with fossil fuels.

With 10 MW of power, the new power-to-steam plant is the largest ever commissioned in the German non-ferrous metals industry. It replaces the previous steam generation plant, which produced steam with natural gas. Assuming that 100 % of the power supply comes from renewable energies, this plant alone could cut about 4,000 tons of CO2 annually. “With this project, we will use more renewable energies, continue reducing CO2 emissions, and make a crucial contribution to power system stability at the same time,” explained Aurubis AG CEO Roland Harings.

“Aurubis has invested substantial amounts in environmental protection and energy efficiency for many years. On the one hand, our customers’ demand for metals is rising in light of the energy transition. At the same time, metal refining is energy-intensive – so we have a stake in the expansion of a sustainable and stable energy supply.

Hamburg’s Environmental Senator Jens Kerstan emphasized that the energy transition can only happen if all of the actors, including industry, cooperate with one another and develop solutions: “The energy transition can only work if all sectors actively take part. Industry has already taken many steps in that direction. Aurubis’ power-to-steam plant is another good step to reduce CO2. It’s in the interest of companies and the public in general to make processes and production much more climate-friendly in the future. NEW 4.0 promotes promising approaches like this one. A lot more can be achieved if the federal government enables more innovations and market opportunities in the regulatory framework and, furthermore, releases the brake when it comes to expanding wind energy.”

The large-scale project NEW 4.0 – Norddeutsche EnergieWende (Northern German Energy Transition), under which Aurubis installed the power-to-steam plant, brings together about 60 partners from all sectors and along the entire value chain on the topic of energy. The purpose of this overarching project, which is funded by the German Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy (BMWi) as part of the SINTEG program, is to show how Hamburg and Schleswig-Holstein can generate 100 % of their electricity supply from renewable sources by 2035. Prof. Dr. Werner Beba, who coordinates the NEW 4.0 project, sees the initiative’s potential in the actors’ collaboration in particular: “The energy system of the future is made up of many individual solutions that contribute to system stability through intelligent networks. With its pilot project, Aurubis demonstrates the important role industry can assume for the energy transition: using green electricity instead of natural gas to produce steam prevents CO2 emissions in industrial processes and reduces the strain on power supply systems.”

The Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy provided 10 % of the funds used to construct the power-to-steam plant as part of NEW 4.0.

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