Siemens and Uniper join forces to decarbonize power generation
Photo courtesy of Siemens

Siemens and Uniper join forces to decarbonize power generation

Uniper, the third-largest listed German utility based in Düsseldorf, and Siemens Gas and Power have signed a cooperation agreement for the development of projects on the decarbonization of power generation and promoting sector coupling. It extends the long-standing partnership between the two companies. One focus of the planned cooperation is the production and use of “green hydrogen” – in other words, hydrogen from renewable energy sources. The companies intend to implement projects in this field together, addressing the entire value chain.

The scope of the new cooperation agreement also includes the evaluation of the potential of Uniper’s existing gas turbines and gas storage facilities for the use of hydrogen. The focus of the work is to define what role hydrogen can play in the future evolution of Uniper’s coal power plants. Uniper recently announced that it would close or convert its coal-fired power plants in Europe by 2025 at the latest. Uniper’s coal-exit plan is instrumental to make the company achieve its objective of becoming carbon neutral in Europe by 2035. 

Siemens Gas and Power is helping its customers achieve their decarbonization goals. “Brownfield transformation” projects are designed to decarbonize coal-fired power plants and significantly reduce CO2 emissions from gas-fired power plants, including the integration of storage solutions and the use of “green gas”. By building infrastructures for Power-to-X, Siemens Gas and Power is making a global contribution to cross-sector decarbonization. Siemens offers all core technologies for a long-term CO2-free energy supply – from power and heat generation by renewable energies or gas-fired power plants, to power transmission and distribution, to efficient electrolysis for hydrogen production.

Uniper initiated the transition to a more climate-friendly energy supply, as described in its new company strategy recently presented. The company has set itself the goal of reducing CO2 emissions in the European generation segment from 22 million tons today to net-zero emissions by 2035. Uniper already produces around 24 terawatt hours of carbon-free electricity with its hydroelectric and nuclear power plants in Germany and Sweden. Under its new strategy it now intends to gradually increase the share of “green” gas or “green hydrogen” in its conventional gas business, in both power generation and energy trading.

Uniper is a pioneer in the use of power-to-gas technology, which makes “green hydrogen” possible, having been one of the first to implement such kinds of projects. The company has already built the first power-to-gas plant in Falkenhagen in 2013, followed by another one in Hamburg in 2015. Uniper added a methanisation plant to the Falkenhagen plant in 2018. In addition, Uniper is pushing forward cross-sector industrial projects together with refineries and the automotive industry with various real-life laboratory projects, which could make it possible to enter hydrogen production at market conditions in the near future.

It is important to look at the energy, mobility and industry sectors together, because they all can and must contribute to reducing greenhouse gases. 

Siemens and Uniper have been partners for many years in integrated products, solutions and services along the entire energy value chain. In addition, the companies share a pioneering role in power-to-gas plants in which hydrogen or methane are produced from renewable energies. Power-to-gas plants can provide a technical answer to one of the key questions of the energy revolution: How can the fluctuating energy sources sun and wind be stored and thus made plannable? The aim of this cooperation is to contribute to improving the economic efficiency and thus the marketability of power-to-gas plants.

“After the coal phase-out and the switch to a secure gas-based energy supply, the use of climate-friendly gas will be a major step towards successful energy system transformation; therefore, the decarbonization of the gas industry, including gas-fired power generation, is essential if Germany and Europe are to achieve their climate targets. We are ready to invest and have set the strategic course to significantly accelerate the decarbonization of our portfolio. In doing so, it is important to bundle energies, act openly in terms of technology, and work with proven high-technology partners like Siemens,” said Uniper CEO Andreas Schierenbeck.

Siemens Energy Executive Board Member Jochen Eickholt added: “ʻGreen hydrogenʼ can contribute to achieving climate targets and is thus a key to a successful energy turnaround. And it can do so across sectors in industry, mobility, and heat and power generation. But we’re only at the beginning. Joint projects with our customers, such as the partnership with Uniper focusing on ʻbrownfield transformationʼ and the design of the ʻgreen hydrogenʼ value chain, are extremely important here. Here we can show that a CO2-free, environmentally friendly energy supply is possible and makes sense under real conditions and using existing plants. Together, we are working to master the challenges up to series production and use of hydrogen on a large scale and to make this clear to the world: Our future lies in hydrogen. This is what we are committed to as a company.” 

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