Collaborating to decarbonise energy in the UAE Siemsn Energy Dietmar-SIERSDORFER

45% of all emissions savings in 2050 will come from technologies that have not yet reached the market.

Dietmar SIERSDORFER Managing Director, Middle East and UAE SIEMENS ENERGY

Collaborating to decarbonise energy in the UAE

June 27, 2023

Dietmar Siersdorfer, Siemens Energy’s managing director for the Middle East and the UAE, talks to The Energy Year about global energy trends and the key role played by the UAE, as well as the latest on the company’s solar-powered hydrogen plant. Siemens Energy is a global energy technology company that provides 40% of the energy generated in the UAE.

What global energy trends are we witnessing, and how is the UAE leading the way?
Energy is the backbone of society. This has become even clearer given Europe’s recent energy security concerns, which highlight the need for a wider energy supplier portfolio.
This challenge runs in parallel to climate change and the urgent need to accelerate the energy transition. The transition will materialise at different speeds, depending on the country and region, but the UAE is at the forefront of this quest and tackling all areas of the energy trilemma.
The UAE declared 2023 as “The Year of Sustainability,” which aligns the nation’s strategy and vision as it hosts COP28. The UAE’s objective is not only to maximise energy and minimise emissions, but to also be a global energy provider. To achieve this, they are creating a strong framework for partnerships, as these are considered essential to anchor real transformational progress. The country seeks to attract and integrate companies, organisations and governments into a holistic, sustainable scheme based on the principle of collaboration.
The UAE is also making a strong bet on innovation and R&D to encourage and eventually realise decarbonisation. 45% of all emissions savings in 2050 will come from technologies that have not yet reached the market. It is this vision, combined with government support, that has facilitated the development of Siemens Energy’s fourth global innovation centre in Abu Dhabi. Top-down and bottom-up efforts are being made to gradually walk away from carbon fuels and embrace cleaner and greener forms of energy generation.

How important is the UAE market for Siemens Energy, and how is this commitment shown in its new Middle East Innovation Centre?
Siemens Energy technology is used in around 40% of the energy generated in the UAE. This makes us a key energy player in the country and makes the country key to our portfolio. This close collaboration and the country’s innovative strategy enable us to showcase and pilot new and advanced technologies. We collaborated with DEWA [Dubai Electricity and Water Authority] and Expo 2020 Dubai to establish the region’s first solar-powered green hydrogen plant.
We are also at the forefront of green synthetic aviation fuel, and part of a consortium of Masdar, TotalEnergies and Marubeni to develop a project in Abu Dhabi. This is an area with incredible opportunity, but which also requires investment and speed to fulfil its potential.
We are fully committed to the UAE and its Energy Strategy 2050. Together with the Abu Dhabi Investment Office [ADIO], we have set up the Middle East Innovation Centre, which is supported by ADIO’s AED 2 billion [USD 545 million] Innovation Programme.
This is one of the four centres we have globally. The others are in Germany, the United States and China. Located at the Khalifa University, the new centre will focus on co-creating commercial solutions with partners to advance circular carbon economies and technologies incorporating digital decarbonisation solutions, green fuels, fuel cells and the electrification of heat and industrial processes.
The centre will enable us to leverage the rich industrial ecosystem in Abu Dhabi and work with start-ups, academia, and public and private companies to develop and commercialise new technologies that will make a meaningful impact on carbon reduction.
As an example of the innovation and efforts around decarbonisation, we are now working on a carbon certification project with ADNOC. This pilot project tracks the CO2 footprint of a given barrel of oil and the output that ADNOC sells to the world. This independently verified Digital Energy Certificate will show how much CO2 has been used in the process of selling a barrel of oil or a petrochemical product. You can also track how much green energy you have used to produce a megawatt hour, for instance. This will give the industry transparency, standardisation, and verification about the carbon intensity of products, enabling new market and trade opportunities.


How is Siemens Energy igniting the hydrogen value chain through its diverse initiatives?
We worked along with DEWA and Expo 2020 Dubai to establish the region’s first solar-powered green hydrogen plant at the Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum Solar Park. The facility covers an area of 10,000 square metres, and during the day, it harnesses some of the photovoltaic electricity from the solar park to produce green hydrogen using a technology called PEM [polymer electrolyte membrane] electrolysis. At night the green hydrogen is converted into electricity to power the city with sustainable energy.
The plant has a 1-MW electrolyser, which produces around 20 kilos of hydrogen per hour, and we are storing the hydrogen in a tank. At night, when the sun is not shining, we burn the hydrogen with a gas engine to generate electricity. This project is a first of its kind and its operational experience will make it a steppingstone for larger-scale, more efficient hydrogen plants in the region. The data we are receiving from this project is of great value for subsequent advances in this sector.
We also recently announced a partnership with Brooge Energy Ltd. to develop a green hydrogen and ammonia plant in Abu Dhabi. On the development and technology side, we are also enhancing all our gas turbines so they can run on 100% hydrogen by 2030. This is a clear testament of our firm commitment to hydrogen, and its different potential use cases, which will be elemental to the country’s, and the world’s, decarbonisation quest. We want to ignite the entire hydrogen ecosystem by contributing to it with technology and infrastructure.

How are technologies essential for upgrading the performance of the company’s assets?
Improving efficiency and asset longevity whilst minimising emissions are vital to decarbonisation efforts. In the UAE, in partnership with DEWA, we developed an AI controller for gas turbines, which helps to reduce emissions and create more output. Clients obtain 3.5 MW more output per gas turbine because of this AI controller. The efficiency rates of a plant running on this technology are exponentially increased. Additionally, we are exploring blockchain, which is part of our new digital project – it all taps into the need for solutions that measure, track, trace, and report back to the market.
Hence, digital solutions will play a greater role for us in the future. Many of these technologies will not be digital standalone solutions. They will be connected to create an integrated system that improves efficiencies and detects equipment degradation. The latter aspect highlights the importance of predictive maintenance, which is essential for avoiding unpredictable failures and shutdowns.

Tell us about the operational efficiencies H-class turbines provide for EGA’s aluminium smelter.
EGA [Emirates Global Aluminium] is one of the world’s largest premium aluminium producers and the largest industrial company in the UAE outside oil and gas. We recently deployed our H-class gas turbines for the first time in the GCC region in EGA’s state-of-the-art aluminium smelter in Jebel Ali, which generates approximately 600 MW of power.
This H-class gas turbine boasts benefits such as high efficiency, short start-up times and quick responses to load changes. Net generating efficiencies surpass 60%, and this technology also reduces overall costs by 10%.
The impact on emissions is also substantial. The total emissions reduction equivalent equates to the planting of 17 million trees per year. More than ever, clients look at the CO2 footprint of the associated aluminium they buy or use. Green aluminium is becoming more accepted than non-green aluminium, which means aluminium producers, in fact all industrial companies, must make efforts to reduce their CO2 and NOx levels.

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