Currently Funded Project

Solar-powered Energy Supply Concepts for the Ceramics Industry (SolEnKe)


Gas-fired tunnel furnace
Exit of a gas-fired tunnel furnace for the production of sanitary ceramics

The decarbonization of industrial production with large electricity and heat requirements can only succeed if renewable energies are used. As the energy demand in industry is continuous, but the supply of renewables fluctuates greatly over time, the transformation is only possible and promising in conjunction with large energy storage systems. One promising option is a combination of low-cost local generation (solar thermal, PV) and reliable supply (e.g. via hydrogen) in order to achieve a high level of security of supply, long-term planning security and cost-effectiveness at the same time. However, there are no sector-specific supply concepts for the provision of electricity and heat from renewable energies that represent a holistic techno-economic optimum for the provision of energy (renewables), energy transport and energy use - e.g. in ceramic furnaces.


Overview of the possible technologies for a solar-powered high-temperature thermal supply for ceramic production. Abbreviations: CST / CSP = concentrated solar thermal / concentrated solar power; PV = photovoltaics; P2H(2P) = power to heat (to power)

The aim of the overall SOLENKE project is to develop and demonstrate a local, CO2-neutral, renewable-based 24/7 supply of electricity and heat for the ceramics industry, that enables 100% security of supply with optimum economic efficiency. In this first, two-year project phase, the possibilities of integrating a solar-powered energy supply concept into Villeroy&Boch's existing ceramic furnaces will be analyzed, compared with other innovative technologies and the costs for the construction and operation of a pilot plant determined. If successful, a pilot plant is to be built in a subsequent second project phase and the feasibility demonstrated on an industrial scale in real production operations (at V&B).  


 Renewable energy supply with thermal storage
© DLR e.V.
Vision of a purely renewable energy supply with thermal storage (orange)

The main task of Fraunhofer Center HTL in the project is the development of a furnace concept for the ceramics industry. The tasks are divided into four work packages:

  • Investigations into the influence of the furnace atmosphere
  • Investigations into active hot gas circulation
  • Furnace operation with external supply of high-temperature heat
  • Comparative evaluation of possible furnace concepts

Project Data

Project Duration 1.1.2024 - 31.12.2025
Sponsor Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Climate Action
Funding Amount HTL 183.000 Euro
Collaborative project (7th Energy Research Programme of the Federal Government)
Project Partners Fraunhofer Center HTL, Villeroy & Boch AG, German Aerospace Center (DLR e.V.)
Project Coordination Villeroy & Boch AG
Project Management at the HTL PD Dr. Gerhard Seifert