Ljubljana, 14 October 2020 – Working with its partners in the Creators project, SIJ Acroni will be striving to develop an advanced energy community in Jesenice, which would take advantage of the energy-intensive industry in an urban environment. They will develop applications and services packages and test their effectiveness in real life by setting up a system of using excess thermal energy to provide district heating for Jesenice and to build up to 5 MW solar power plant and hydrogen production plant.
SIJ Acroni, the largest company in the SIJ Group, is starting an ambitious project, through which it aims to study all possibilities of establishing a smart energy community in Jesenice. As the largest local employer with its production facilities almost reaching the very centre of the town, and one who works closely with the local community, SIJ Acroni is the ideal partner to study all of the opportunities to establish an energy community, which will play an ever more important role in the "cohabitation" of an energy-intensive industry and the urban environment.
The country's largest steel producer has been granted funds from the Creators program (CREATing cOmmunity eneRgy Systems), which is a part of Horizon 2020 – an EU-wide programme of research and innovation. The Creators program is scheduled to run for 38 months and receive 5.3 million Euros of EU funding. The Belgian construction company Cordeel is the coordinator of the project, which includes 17 partners from eight countries. Joining SIJ Acroni from Slovenia are also the Jožef Stefan Institute (IJS), which coordinates the Slovenian project partners, BTC and Elektro Gorenjska.
The Creators project kicked off at four locations with very different energy communities – in Tartu in Estonia, in Temse in Belguim, in Barcelona and in Jesenice. The next step will be to test the applications and services packages in six additional energy communities, namely in France, Bulgaria, the Netherlands, Spain, and also in BTC in Ljubljana and at SIJ Acroni. The last phase of the project will be to test its tools and concepts in ten additional locations.
"We at SIJ Acroni want to work on the Creators project to build a useable and commercially viable Community Energy Systems (CES) platform, which will help plan, launch and manage energy communities of the future. These communities will play an increasingly important role in the operations of an energy-intensive industry in an urban environment," Samo Lečnik, the Head of the Energy Department at the SIJ Group, points out and adds, "To reach our desired goals, we set ourselves three main projects – using excess thermal energy to heat the city, building up to MW solar power plant and building a hydrogen production plant." The production process at SIJ Acroni creates a lot of excess heat, so the company's plan is to feed that heat into the district heating system in Jesenice. The suitability of using the roofs of SIJ Acroni's production halls to build a potentially upgradeable up to 5 MW solar power plant is also being studied.
Some years ago, SIJ Acroni used to produce its own hydrogen to use in their technological processes, but today, they buy it as a gas (200 bar) on the market. The company is considering building a hydrogen production plant with a 1 MW connected power. This is another project where they want to get the local community involved. If it could produce more hydrogen than it needs, it could cooperate on potential transport projects.
Dr. Boris Sučić of the Energy Efficiency Centre (EEC) at the IJS points out, "We want to connect the hitherto unconnected energy sectors of electricity, heat and gas with these projects. Our goal is to link them at the levels of offer, demand and storage. We want to take the full advantage of the energy sources, thereby bringing positive effects to all parties involved."
The SIJ Group wants to be an active participant in reaching common goals, which will require state institutions to provide active support in the form of targeted incentives for executing key projects. In the end, Mr. Lečnik points out that we must by no means forget that the goals of sustainable development are defined at the national level, but much of their implementation is done at the local levels, so local players (municipalities, providers of district heating, citizens and the energy-intensive industry) require tangible incentives and enough room for manoeuvre to effectively implement sustainable development policies and create new jobs.
The SIJ Group already operates in accordance with the circular economy, it has a below-average carbon footprint compared to similar companies in the industry and has co-signed the Sustainable Development Charter of the World Steel Association, which is their commitment to continuously reduce their environmental impact.
The SIJ Group is Slovenia’s largest vertically integrated metallurgy group which incorporates circular economy principles in its operations, allowing its products to maintain leading market positions in European and global niche steel markets. SIJ Group is among Slovenia’s top exporters and is considered a key employer in the Gorenjska and Koroška regions.
SIJ – Slovenska industrija jekla, d.d.
Mag. Sara Wagner, Head of Corporate Communications
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