Last year in June, Es-geht! was commissioned to conduct a study on the ceramics industry in the Wunsiedel district as part of a call for tenders. The focus is on decarbonising the industry and increasing its competitiveness on the international market. It is entitled “Transformation Processes in the Ceramics Industry”.
Context, Goal and Process of the Study
The study is of great importance for the district, as the ceramics industry provides several thousand jobs for the region. These are not limited to the production of everyday objects. Technical ceramics are also produced in the district. This industry is highly dependent on the use of natural gas for its kilns to reach the necessary temperatures. Moreover, natural gas offers the possibility to precisely control the firing process and has a high quality. Its substitution is therefore (cost-)intensive, since, for example, the kilns have to be converted. In addition, the price explosion of natural gas in the last year has put an immense cost burden on the companies.
The implementation approach was energy saving as well as the use of renewable energies in the companies. This should not lead to any financial disadvantages in the case of an increased CO2 price, since either less or renewable energy would be used. This would make it possible to prevent the migration of industry and thus the loss of jobs.
During the study, an inventory analysis and a hazard potential assessment were made. These are intended to support the ceramic industry in the use of renewable energies and energy saving. The overriding goals are to maintain the competitiveness of the companies and to prevent migration.
It is of great importance to protect these jobs. Especially as the district is facing an exodus of people and industry. A loss of these jobs due to too high CO2 taxes, or too high and thus uncompetitive prices on the international market, would be dramatic. Therefore, competitive disadvantages compared to other parts of the world must be kept as low as possible.
“With this study, we are sure that we can lay a foundation stone for the transformation processes in the ceramics industry in the district of Wunsiedel. Our inventory analysis provides us with information about the companies and potentials in terms of energy savings. It also gives us the opportunity to support the industry and continue to establish Wunsiedel as an attractive location.”Gerhard Meindl, Project Team (Es-geht!)
The study started on 02.06.22 with the first official meeting, the kick-off meeting. There, the team of Es-geht! and the district were able to get to know the companies and their concerns and interests. A representative of the Verband der Keramischen Industrie e.V. was also present.
This was followed in July by the first and second workshops, which were equally interactive. At the meetings, the participating companies were brought up to date and received input lectures on the topic of energy substitution and efficiency measures. In addition, the companies were given time for networking.
The first workshops were followed by on-site visits to 7 companies to estimate greenhouse gas emissions and conduct an energy inventory. These visits resulted in a second questionnaire.
The final workshop took place on 26.01.23.
The final report contains the data evaluation of the company-specific energy consumption, the kiln technology and the annual tonnage. Ten companies participated, although not all of them provided the necessary data. This was followed by a greenhouse gas balance and an evaluation of the importance of the ceramics industry for the district in terms of the jobs it provides.
This was followed by a risk analysis and a conclusion of the study on the ceramics industry in the district of Wunsiedel. In the latter, the responsible team came to the conclusion that the ceramics industry is one of the most energy-intensive sectors. This means that the conversion to CO2-optimised production alone poses great challenges for this branch of industry. In order to start this highly demanding and extremely urgent transformation process, the study can be used as a basis.
However, it should be noted that this industry depends to a very high degree on external risk factors as well as process technology, which make it almost impossible for it to achieve substitution of natural gas as an energy source. Therefore, it is above all the external circumstances that must be changed so that this industry becomes capable of acting. This includes, for example, a rapid advance in hydrogen production and technologies.
“During the study we had to realise that the original focus on energy savings and increasing energy efficiency was no longer completely accurate. This is due to the current geopolitical situation. Therefore, it was necessary for us to broaden this focus to the acute concerns, namely the extremely high energy prices. Thus, our risk analysis was broadened in order to meet the needs of our participants. This would not have been possible without close cooperation. We are very pleased that we were able to achieve this.”Lucas Dörr, Project Leader (Es-geht!)
It is therefore essential that companies join forces more intensively. Stronger cooperation enables the ceramics industry to reposition itself and exert greater influence – on external factors as well as on its own operations.
The Duties of Es-geht! during the Study
👨🏻💻 Lucas Dörr was in charge of the study on the ceramics industry in the Wunsiedel district. He naturally received active support from Jan Weiler and Gerhard Meindl.
In addition, he was in close contact with Jürgen Kromer from the district of Wunsiedel, who initiated the study. Together we were thus able to form a strong team and dedicate ourselves to the task.
The study was finished on 28.02.2023. Due to the sensitive data contained in the final report of the study on the ceramics industry in the district of Wunsiedel, we are unfortunately unable to make it available to you here. We ask for your understanding.
However, the study has resulted in further collaboration with one of the ceramics companies, with whom we will continue to work in the future. So, stay tuned!
Your Es-geht! Team