Siemens Exits Nuclear Energy Business for Renewables
“The chapter is closed,” says Siemens CEO Peter Löscher in regard to the company’s nuclear energy business. In response to the world’s growing concern over the safety of nuclear power, German-based Siemens will exit the nuclear sector in greater pursuit of renewable energy.
Löscher attributes the company’s decision not only to the Fukushima incident, but more to the German response. The country, led by German Chancellor Angela Merkel, has banned nuclear energy, strategically closing various reactors with a goal of a nuclear free Germany by 2022. The country will instead look to renewable sources of energy to fill the power gap. Considering that Siemens is a German company that has had a hand in developing all of Germany’s 17 nuclear reactors, it only makes sense to follow suit and ditch nuclear for renewables.
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"The chapter is closed for us," Löscher said. "We will no longer be involved in managing the building or financing of nuclear plants."
He adds that the decision is in response to “German society and politics' clear position on ending nuclear energy."
Siemens has had a difficult time in the nuclear energy sector this year following an order by an international tribunal demanding the company pay France’s Areva—the world leader in nuclear technology—€648 million ($927 million) for failing to meet contractual obligations in a joint venture that Siemens backed out of earlier this year.
The announcement will inevitably terminate a long-planned joint venture between Siemens and Russian nuclear firm Rosatom to construct 400 nuclear plants by 2030. However, Löscher did express that he wishes to continue working with the firm in other market areas.
Löscher seems hopeful for the future of renewables and Siemens’ role in bringing these technologies to the forefront. He states, "Germany's shift towards renewable energies is the project of the century."
ScottishPower submits plans for UK's largest electrolyser
ScottishPower has submitted a planning application to deliver the UK’s largest electrolyser which will be the key component of a green hydrogen facility located close to its Whitelee windfarm.
Alongside the 20MW electrolyser, the application also includes proposals for a combined solar and battery energy storage scheme - up to 40MW and 50MW respectively - to power the electrolyser. They will be installed about 5km west of Lochgoin Reservoir and next to the existing Whitelee Extension substation.
The submission marks an important step for Green Hydrogen for Scotland, a partnership between ScottishPower, BOC and ITM Power, to create green hydrogen production facilities with clusters of refuelling stations across Scotland.
The proposed green hydrogen project will be engineered and operated by BOC, using wind and solar power produced by ScottishPower Renewables, and the electrolyser will be delivered by ITM Power. The project aims to supply hydrogen to the commercial market before 2023.
Green Hydrogen for Glasgow aims to provide carbon-free transport and clean air for communities across Glasgow as well as helping support industrial hydrogen demand in the region. The city, set to host the United Nations 26th Climate Change Conference, COP26, later this year, aims to become the first net zero city in the UK by 2030.
Barry Carruthers, ScottishPower’s Hydrogen Director, said: “With all eyes set to be on Glasgow later this year as the city hosts the UN’s 26th climate change conference, COP26, it’s fantastic to be making this next important step towards delivering green hydrogen for Glasgow.
“Whitelee keeps breaking barriers, first the UK’s largest onshore windfarm, and soon to be home to the UK’s largest electrolyser. The site has played a vital role in helping the UK to decarbonise and we look forward to delivering another vital form of zero carbon energy generation at the site to help Glasgow and Scotland achieve their net zero goals.”
He added green hydrogen has a vital role to play in Scotland and the wider UK’s journey to Net Zero emissions, providing a sustainable energy source that can provide clean, renewable energy for industries, heavy transport and companies for future decades.
Green hydrogen is a zero carbon energy source which can be used by industries and companies that cannot fully electrify their operations to help them lower their emissions, for example, heavy duty transport like buses and bin lorries.
The technology gets its name from the green power source, normally wind or solar, used to power an electrolyser to split water into its core elements; hydrogen and oxygen gas. The hydrogen can then be stored and transported for use as needed.
The green hydrogen facility at Whitelee, the UK’s largest onshore windfarm, will house a 20MW electrolyser and would be able to produce up to 8 tonnes of green hydrogen per day, roughly equivalent to fuelling over 550 buses to travel from Glasgow to Edinburgh and back again each day.
Graham Cooley, CEO ITM Power, said it marks an exciting milestone based on market development for green hydrogen for the city of Glasgow, that will see the UK’s largest electrolyser deployment to date being realised in Scotland.
Mark Griffin, Hydrogen Market Development Manager for Clean Fuels at BOC said: “The scale of this project demonstrates the growing demand for clean hydrogen and as a member of the Green Hydrogen for Scotland partnership, we’re delighted to bring our hydrogen mobility and refuelling project expertise to help deliver a ground-breaking facility in Glasgow.”
The hydrogen production facility could support Glasgow City Council as well as surrounding local authorities and industries in their ambitions to create a zero emissions vehicle fleet, using only electric and hydrogen-powered vehicles by the end of 2029.
ScottishPower expects a decision on the planning application in autumn.
The UK recently announced a £3 million investment to develop the Tees Valley hydrogen transport hub (click here).