International energy group Siemens will team up with one of Germany’s largest fossil fuel generators Uniper to develop projects which will fast track the decarbonisation of power generation, including the production and use of “green hydrogen” and the conversion of Uniper’s European power plants.
The two companies announced on Wednesday the signing of a cooperation agreement “for the development of projects on the decarbonization of power generation and promoting sector coupling.”
Uniper is one of the biggest fossil fuel generators in Europe, and took the fossil fuel assets of German utility giant E.ON in a break-up of the company a few years ago.
Siemens is already heavily involved in electrolysis through its Power-to-X technology, which uses renewable electrical energy to create green hydrogen. Its “brownfield transformation” projects are helping clients decarbonise coal-fired power plants and significantly reduce CO2 emissions from gas-fired power plants by utilising technologies including integrated storage solutions through to the use of “green gas”.
Siemens will evaluate the potential of Uniper’s existing gas turbines and gas storage facilities for the use of hydrogen, and what role hydrogen can play in the future of Uniper’s coal power plants, which the company has promised to close or convert by 2025 at the latest.
Uniper’s coal exit plants are part of the company’s larger goal of reducing CO2 emissions in its European generation segment from 22 million tonnes as of today, down to net-zero emissions by 2035.
According to the two companies’ press release, Uniper “has already built the first power-to-gas plant in Falkenhagen in 2013, followed by another one in Hamburg in 2015” and the addition of “a methanisation plant to the Falkenhagen plant in 2018.”
Further, highlighting the importance of cross-sector development, Uniper has several “real-life laboratory projects” which bring together refiners and the automotive industry, “which could make it possible to enter hydrogen production at market conditions in the near future.”
“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,” said Uniper CEO Andreas Schierenbeck.
“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.”