Decarbonize the power supply while maintaining reliable and affordable electricity

Countries around the world have set targets for reducing carbon emissions in an effort to limit the effects of climate change. Many are striving to reach net zero in the coming decades. Yet governments also want to maintain, and even improve, the standard of living of their citizens, which means that electricity remains affordable and reliable. This poses potentially conflicting priorities.

“I think one of the most important topics we’re dealing with right now is how fast can we decarbonize power generation and power generation in the societies around us,” Karim said. Amin, Board Member of Siemens Energy, as a guest. on The POWER Podcast. “But on the other hand, we also see the importance of security of supply. I mean, the world needs reliable electricity. It is very important not only for economic development, but for the very life we ​​have.

Amin recognized the importance of adding more renewable energy. “There is no doubt that we need ever faster deployment of renewable energy,” he said. “The important thing, of course, is to realize and understand that renewables also have challenges.”

Amin suggested that energy storage will play an important role in future power systems, just like gas turbines. “We are moving, as I said, from fossil to renewable, but we have to solve the problem of intermittency and storage,” he said. “There are a few technological solutions that could also help bring CO2 the footprint of gas turbines reduced by nearly two-thirds thanks to hydrogen co-combustion or carbon capture technologies. So there are ways that the world is now looking at and actually implementing to use gas turbines at a time when the storage capacity in terms of technology maturity is not yet there.

Coal-fired power plants are a major source of CO2 global emissions. A few years ago, Siemens Energy opted out of participating in new coal power projects. However, the company still provides services to the existing coal fleet. “In fact, the service helps existing units that are working anyway to be upgraded and bring their CO2 go down one level. So we are really contributing in that regard,” Amin said.

Siemens Energy invests a lot, around 1 billion euros each year, in research and development (R&D). “A lot of that – over 20% of that, and it’s growing year over year – really goes into new technologies that would help accelerate the energy transition,” Amin said. Still, there’s a delicate balance that needs to be maintained, which is putting as much effort into renewables as possible while finding a way to keep the system “reliable, stable and affordable.”

At the same time, Siemens Energy puts its money in its mouth, so to speak. The company has pledged to use only electricity supplied by renewable energy sources by 2023. It has also pledged to become climate neutral in its own operations by 2030, which will includes absolute reduction of Scope 1 and 2 greenhouse gas emissions by 46% by 2030, compared to 2019.

Amin said climate change is “the biggest challenge” we have right now, and one that needs to be addressed. “The problem is sophisticated. It’s not as simple as putting the renewables on and unplugging the gas, for example, because at the end of the day you have to run everyday life – critical infrastructure works – and renewables don’t solve that problem on their own. This is a solution that needs to happen, taking into account a number of things and working as quickly as possible through this transition process,” he said.

To hear the full interview, which includes much more about Siemens Energy and decarbonization, listen The POWER Podcast. Click on the SoundCloud player below to listen in your browser now or use the following links to go to the show’s page on your favorite podcast platform:

For more powerful podcasts, visit The POWER Podcast archives.

Aaron Larson is the editor of POWER (@AaronL_Power, @POWERmagazine).

Alan A. Seibert