Decarbonizing the Power Grid with Hydrogen and Advanced Technology

Many leaders around the world are focused on decarbonizing their countries’ energy supplies. For most, that means adding renewable energy resources to their electricity mix, and developing a path aimed at retiring coal and other fossil-fueled power plants. Yet, these are not the only decarbonization options. Research and development (R&D) efforts are also ongoing to expand the use of hydrogen and energy storage, and advance new technologies, such as carbon capture and artificial intelligence, in an effort to reduce carbon emissions.

“I think there is a clear sign right now that the world has made the choice, and the choice is clearly the zero-CO2 emission,” Karim Amin, executive vice president of Generation with Siemens Energy, said as a guest on The POWER Podcast. “So, that’s a given, and we are all working towards achieving this target.”

Siemens Energy sees hydrogen as an important piece of the decarbonization puzzle. The company is working to bring the cost of hydrogen down through advances in its electrolyzer technology. Siemens Energy also has a very clear roadmap to make its advanced heavy-duty gas turbines capable of operating on 100% hydrogen before 2030.

“Two years ago, we were barely at 30% of hydrogen co-firing. Today, our HL gas turbine is up to 50%, and some of our decentral gas turbines [are] up to 75%,” Amin said. “We are confident to be able to develop the technology, which is mainly around the combustion system in the gas turbine, to be able to handle 100% of hydrogen.”

Most of the hydrogen produced around the world today comes from natural gas, which is often called “gray” hydrogen. In order to decarbonize the energy supply, it’s important for “green” hydrogen, which is produced from renewable energy resources, to replace the gray hydrogen. However, gray hydrogen is currently much cheaper than green hydrogen.

“The cost right now to produce green hydrogen is rather expensive,” Amin said. “The technology is still not there to bring the cost of the hydrogen to affordable levels, and that’s what we are working on, and other players also in the industry [are] working on, to bring the cost of hydrogen down to levels that can be also sustainable in the future.”

Amin made it clear, however, that hydrogen isn’t the only piece of the decarbonization puzzle. “Hydrogen is only one part. There are technologies around carbon capture—technologies, which we are also working on. There are technologies around storage, as I said. There are technologies around upgrading existing fleets. There is even a big part to be played by artificial intelligence, algorithms, and digitalization,” he said.

“There [are] new horizons for the industry to explore and to take us to the next level, and that’s what we are investing in and working upon, besides all the other things that we talked about,” Amin concluded.

To hear the full interview, which includes much more about the R&D work Siemens Energy is conducting and advances the company is making, listen to The POWER Podcast. Click on the SoundCloud player below to listen in your browser now or use the following links to reach the show page of your favorite podcast platform:

For more power podcasts, visit The POWER Podcast archives.

Aaron Larson is POWER’s executive editor (@AaronL_Power, @POWERmagazine).

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