Development of the virtual battery concept in the paper industry: Applying a dynamic life cycle assessment approach

Stefan Puschnigg, Sophie Knöttner, Johannes Lindorfer, Thomas Kienberger

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Energy-intensive industries face the challenge of reducing carbon emissions while remaining competitive. Key measures include fossil fuel substitution, energy efficiency, and integration of renewable energy sources, but their fluctuating production profile makes them difficult to integrate and require industries to adapt their current consumption and production patterns to become more flexible.In this study, the virtual battery concept (VBC), exemplarily demonstrated for a specific site in the paper industry, is introduced and evaluated from an environmental, energetic, and techno-economic perspective. A mathematical optimization model of the class mixed integer linear programming (MILP) was applied to express the industrial site as VBC and derive the operational data basis for the subsequent life cycle assessment (LCA). A dynamic LCA approach is presented to allow the consideration and assessment of the temporal behavior of energy load profiles and their associated environmental implications.The results showed that compared to a static LCA, the dynamic approach leads up to 42 % lower greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions for 1 MJ of public electricity. The global warming potential (GWP) of the total energy supply chain was reduced by 40 % for electricity and 8 % for heat, respectively. By means of a scenario analysis, the GWP to produce one ton of paper was reduced up to 33 % compared to the business-as-usual (BAU) case to 672 kgCO2eq.r in the best case. However, the total primary energy demand (PED) increased by 34 %, but the fossil PED was reduced by 32 % and the renewable PED increased by 157 %. The renewable PED share covered up to 67 % of the total PED. The techno-economic analysis revealed total annual cost savings of up to 44 % to 64.6 euro per ton of paper. Environmental costs were estimated to range from 79.6 to 88.9 euro per ton of paper. The VBC is considered a promising approach to utilize regional renewable excess electricity effectively, reduce fossil-based energy generation, increase grid stability, and to avoid costly grid infrastructure investments in future. In principle, the VBC is site-independent and replicable to other industries but needs to be evaluated site specifically according to certain process characteristics and requirements.
Translated title of the contributionEntwicklung eines virtuellen Batteriekonzepts für die Papierindustrie - Anwendung eines dynamischen Lebenszyklusbewertungs-Ansatzes
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)438-457
Number of pages20
JournalSustainable Production and Consumption
Publication statusPublished - Sept 2023

Research Field

  • Efficiency in Industrial Processes and Systems


Dive into the research topics of 'Development of the virtual battery concept in the paper industry: Applying a dynamic life cycle assessment approach'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this