Energising society

September 3, 2020

Steve Scrimshaw, vice-president of Siemens Energy, began his career as an apprentice in the energy sector at the former CA Parsons site in Heaton, Newcastle, and has more than 40 years industry experience. Today, he leads the newly formed, independent Siemens Energy for the UK and Ireland following a spin-out from Siemens Group in April 2020. Here, Steve reflects on the role of hydrogen power in the UK

At Siemens, we’ve been working with customers on solutions for the evolving demands of industry and society for more than 170 years and I’m very proud to work with such a talented team with a strong sense of purpose and who remain committed to Siemens Energy’s goal of energising society.

In the UK, we have a broad range of expertise across the entire energy value chain, with a comprehensive portfolio for utilities, independent power producers, transmission system operators, the oil and gas industry and other energy- intensive industries. But as energy demand increases and the world continues to evolve, we face a key question.

How can we meet the growing demand for electricity while protecting our climate at the same time? It is a question Siemens Energy remains committed to finding the answer to.

Globally, we’re building new systems and are fighting climate change by making sustainable, reliable and affordable energy possible. Taking a proactive lead in the energy transition, our focus is on becoming carbon neutral by 2030 and supporting the UK Government and our customers in achieving net zero by 2050.

The future of our industry is all about greener energy and we need to make sure we bring existing employees along on that journey. It’s a complete learning process for us all to ensure everyone from apprentices to leading industry experts are equipped with the skills to understand how we can make a difference and pay our part in creating a better environment.

At the same time, we’re looking at the innovation needed to apply more sustainable technology. While our Newcastle site provides a comprehensive service facility for power generating equipment, it’s well suited to play a role in new business fields such as hydrogen electrolysis. It’s this fuel source that will help us on the journey to achieving the net zero ambition, while providing a huge global opportunity for the industry.

The role of hydrogen power in achieving net zero

Hydrogen has a critical role to play in decarbonising heat, power and transport as well as some industrial processes, which are difficult to electrify. Crucially, hydrogen offers a versatile, clean and flexible energy vector suitable for the energy transition. However, it’s not something that can happen overnight and we need to see a new industry develop over the next 30 years, from scratch. An industry that is as comparable in size to the entire electricity industry today!

Ambition remains a vital component in this journey and it’s important the UK shows the same spirit for hydrogen as that which created the successful offshore wind industry. It’s the UK’s unique offshore wind resource, after all, that provides the opportunity to make large quantities of low carbon hydrogen via electrolysis, thus unlocking the UK’s ability to store renewable electricity as hydrogen.

As Siemens Energy in the UK, we are pleased to be working with many industry stakeholders and Government departments, including the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, in helping to define what the UK’s approach to the fledgeling hydrogen sector could look like.

Moving forward, it’s important that Government policy sets its sights on building the industry in a way that maximises local content and brings down the cost for customers, as well as providing some early projects, so that supply chain companies can invest in the technology and skills needed to grow the industry.

Siemens Energy’s recent Pace of Change research found that the public want to see even bolder steps taken to move the UK towards clean energy sources and net zero carbon, with a third of UK adults (32 per cent) believing the Government should be most responsible for supporting renewable energy usage in the UK.

Hydrogen will also play a vital role in decarbonising transport. As a fuel, it’s the most promising sustainable option for long-distance transportation for trucks, buses, ships, trains, large cars, and commercial vehicles compared to alternative options such as batteries.

In industry, hydrogen can also be burned to produce high-grade heat and used as feedstock in several processes such as ammonia production.

In the power sector alone, it can be blended with natural gas and used as fuel in gas turbines to produce electricity with lower CO2 emissions. And it’s because of this we have a plan to ensure our gas turbines are capable of operating with hydrogen by 2030.

Economies of scale will play a key role in reducing the price of alternative energy sources
but as we know from the development of other technologies, such as offshore wind, the more hydrogen is deployed, the further the cost will come down in using it.

Demand should remain high given the versatility of hydrogen and the fact it can be used in so many different applications and across various sectors.

The future

We believe the UK will only fully maximise the industrial benefit through a clear and visible pipeline of work. This will allow investment and R&D throughout supply chain companies to develop products locally.

Internally for Siemens Energy, our future, alongside the green agenda, is looking more at the skills diversification new technologies and policies bring. We believe there is a bright future and a renaissance in energy is within reach, which will create exciting opportunities as we embrace the innovation these new technologies bring in powering our planet.

Siemens Energy
Siemens Energy operates across the full spectrum of the energy supply and distribution chain and has more than 3500 employees distributed across 13 service, project and manufacturing sites in the UK and Ireland. Connect with Steve at @stevescrimshaw

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