Driving deep decarbonisation across all sectors

22 December 2021
The energy value chains of the future will look quite different, says Dietmar Siersdorfer, Middle East and UAE managing director at Siemens Energy
What does the future of the energy transition in the Middle East and North Africa look like?

Everything starts with renewable energy, which will increasingly become a major part of the overall energy mix. But the fight against climate change requires the decarbonisation of economic systems worldwide.

This will not only affect the energy industry, which accounts for around 40 per cent of global carbon dioxide emissions, but also the other sectors such as transport and industry, which account for the other 60 per cent of carbon dioxide emissions.

With more renewables, we will see a greater integration of industries that don’t traditionally work together. This ‘sector coupling’ is an efficient way to significantly increase the share of renewable energies used in other sectors, especially industries that are difficult to electrify, including industrial and transport.

Against the background of low-cost electricity from solar photovoltaic (PV) and wind power in the region, there is huge potential to store excess generation, and even convert it into hydrogen and further into chemicals. 

In the long term, the regional exporters of oil and gas might change to become exporters of hydrogen and products based on hydrogen.

The energy value chains of the future will look quite different. Renewable energy producers will need to collaborate with technology providers, chemicals producers and end-product manufacturers to refine the value chain and enhance efficiency and reliability.

It’s important to take a holistic view on the objectives and take the right steps at the right time. Technologies are available and will mature further over the years to come.

The energy transition will not happen overnight. It’s a journey where the industry, governments and society have to work together, find the solutions and define the path to go there together.

Which technologies in particular offer the greatest potential for immediate returns in terms of energy efficiency and decarbonisation objectives?

One of the fastest ways to improve efficiency and decarbonisation is by transitioning from burning coal or oil to natural gas.

Modern combined-cycle gas turbine power plants already achieve an efficiency of over 60 per cent, while coal-fired power plants typically achieve only between 30-40 per cent or up to 45 per cent in modern supercritical systems.

Gas technologies will play a fundamental role in the energy transition and help to balance the fluctuating supply of renewable energy whilst providing a stable foundation for further renewables development.

But we must also ensure the longevity of these gas assets given their large capital requirements. We are producing industrial gas turbines that can currently co-fire up to 75 per cent of green hydrogen with modern dry low emission combustion systems.

We strive for 100 per cent co-firing across our portfolio by 2030. This provides a path to increase efficiency and lower emissions, whilst being ready for the decarbonised fuel requirements of the future.

Digitalisation will also act as a key accelerator in efficiency and decarbonisation across multiple industries and processes.

By utilising digitalisation technologies, we can enhance reliability and availability of assets, and support maintenance through predictive capabilities, thereby reducing costs as well as emissions.

In industrial sectors, utilising decarbonised heat and industrial processes will be vital to increase efficiency and reduce CO2 emissions and will be crucial for fighting climate change.

How are companies such as Siemens Energy best placed to help?

As an experienced and reliable partner in major projects, we work with our customers around the world to devise concepts, or Energy Roadmaps, that range from the modernisation of existing infrastructures and the construction of new facilities to the provision of complete energy systems.

As a trusted technology provider, we are working with our partners to shape the future of power supply. We partner on ambitious projects like inter-grid connections between different countries, to ensure that regions with energy abundance and low costs can export energy to regions without power access.

With a majority stake in Siemens Gamesa Renewable Energy, a leading wind power producer, we are growing renewable energy capacity around the world.

Together with strong financing and development concepts, we offer comprehensive solutions that make energy systems cleaner, more sustainable, and increase their value. With the help of our expertise as a digital technology company, we tap new potential – in the areas of development, manufacturing, and service.

Through a focus on innovation and collaboration we are decarbonising a variety of sectors, even traditionally carbon-intensive sectors like petrochemicals. Siemens Energy is working with Technip Energies to commercialise rotating olefins cracker technology that can significantly decarbonise plastics production.

Our partnerships extend from other companies to governments and inter-governmental agencies. Together we are innovating technologies and concepts that will both energise and decarbonise society. A lot of new partnerships will evolve as we can only find the solutions together and this also creates new opportunities.

It’s one of the greatest challenges we face to make the world a better place for the future generations. But it is an exciting challenge and we already possess all the required resources in our hands, hearts and minds.

Published in partnership with Siemens Energy

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