Siemens Energy

Thorbjoern Fors
About: Thorbjoern Fors - EVP

Thorbjoern Fors is the EVP of Siemens Energy’s Industrial Applications division. Prior to this position, he served as CEO of the Service Distribution Generation and Oil and Gas business unit of Siemens. He also held EVP roles in the organization’s industrial power generation and compression business and within global marketing and sales of new equipment. Mr. Fors is a mechanical engineer with more than 25 years of international experience in business development, sales, operations, and leading global profit and loss units.

1. Why is green hydrogen creating so much buzz?

Addressing climate change and meeting targets outlined in the Paris Climate Accord requires deep decarbonization of economic systems worldwide. Expansion of renewables like wind and solar will be crucial to achieving this goal. However, there is a second piece to the puzzle: energy produced from these sources needs to be made available to a broad range of consumers.

Green hydrogen offers one solution to this problem by serving as a stable carrier and chemical storage medium of energy. By itself, hydrogen is100% clean burning; however, it can also be combined with CO2 and/or other substances to create carbon-neutral e-fuels. This opens up countless opportunities for sector coupling and decarbonization, particularly in the energy industry, which accounts for around 40% of global CO2 emissions, and other carbon-intensive sectors such as the transport and process industries.

2. How can green hydrogen revolutionize the energy industry?

Let me first say that there are hurdles to overcome on the way to a sustainable and prudent green hydrogen economy. Primarily, renewable generating capacity needs to expand significantly. Governments must also do a better job of creating clear incentives for innovation and investment that further stimulate the pipeline of real hydrogen projects. Having said that, progress is being made, and the long-term potential for green hydrogen as a decarbonization agent is enormous.

For example, methanol synthesis based on green hydrogen and CO2 from biomass-based industrial flue gas raises the prospect of a carbon-neutral industrial system. Moreover, as a fuel for mobility applications (for example, the strategic target from the world-leading container forwarder Maersk) and feedstock for the chemical industry, green methanol can decisively drive the de-fossilization of industry sectors. At the same time, integrating methanol production into existing industrial facilities such as combined heat and power plants or pulp and paper mills creates a local and CO2-neutral closed-loop system.

Siemens Energy is currently involved with several groundbreaking e-fuel projects across the globe. One example is the Haru Oni project in Chile, from our customer HIF, where we are part of an international consortium of companies developing and implementing the world's first integrated and commercial-scale plant to produce eMethanol-based gasoline.

We have also partnered with Sweden-based power-to-liquids (PtL) developer Liquid Wind to build several industrial-scale eMethanol production facilities, so-called Flagships, around the globe, starting with the FlagshipONE in Ornskoldsvik/Sweden.

3. When do you think eMethanol will be available on a large scale?

We foresee a significant build-out of eMethanol production capacity in the coming decade. Much of the demand will be driven by the marine/shipping sector, where options for decarbonization are comparatively fewer than onshore transportation applications.

Right now, the constraining factor is the availability oflow-cost renewable generating capacity, which is required for green hydrogen plants to be sustainable and economical. In Europe alone, it is estimated that 1,100 – 1,300 gigawatts (GW) of dedicated renewable capacity will be needed to fulfill the green hydrogen demand forecasted by 2050.In addition, up to 550 GW of electrolyzer capacity will also be required.

Fortunately, we are off to a good start. Despite the pandemic, the world managed to add a record level of 260 GW of renewable energy capacity in 2020, more than four times the capacity from other sources. By 2030, it is estimated that global renewable energy capacity could reach 10,770 GW, nearly quadrupling the current capacity.

4. In terms of products and equipment, what does Siemens Energy have to offer in the way of green hydrogen?

In addition to our line of Silyzer PEM electrolyzers, we supply a broad range of enabling technologies across the entire hydrogen value chain – from production to transport to processing and end-use. This includes a diverse portfolio of hydrogen/CO2/syngas compressors to support the establishment of pipeline and storage facility infrastructure for hydrogen, so as for production facilities for eFuels. We are also a leading provider of hydrogen-capable gas turbines. Many of our gas turbines can already operate on fuel with high hydrogen contents. Our mission is to burn 100% hydrogen in gas turbines by 2030.

5. What are the benefits of Siemens Energy’s Silyzer 300 and how does it work?

The Silyzer 300 is Siemens Energy’s latest product line in our portfolio of double-digit megawatt electrolyzers. It uses polymer electrolyte membrane (PEM) technology to split water into hydrogen and oxygen. On the front and back of the PEM are electrodes that are connected to the positive and negative poles of the voltage source. This is where water molecules are split using DC power from green electricity sources. The membrane separates the anode, where the oxygen is collected, and the cathode, where the hydrogen gas is generated. This results in power density and service life advantages, but it also guarantees high gas purity, dynamic availability (0 – 100% in 10 seconds), and efficiency.

6. What specific features of the Silyzer 300 can help operators improve efficiency and reduce the investment costs of industrial electrolysis plants?

The Silyzer 300 has several features that make it well suited for today’s green hydrogen production plants. For one, it can be switched on and off without preheating, which results in high flexibility and overall system efficiencies, even at part loads. This is especially beneficial in regions with high volatility and intermittency of renewable sources.

Additionally, manufacturing costs for electrolyzers will be significantly reduced with our new multi-gigawatt factory that will start production in 2023 in Berlin. The system’s modular design and highly standardized process units with premanufactured components allow for economies of scale and shorter construction times and can minimize investment costs for large-scale industrial hydrogen projects.

7. Aside from equipment solutions and equity investment, how will Siemens Energy offer experience and technology to the development of eMethanol facilities?

In addition to our equipment offering, which covers a substantial portion of the green hydrogen production plant scope, we are extremely focused on being a strategic partner to developers. We can engage early to conduct feasibility studies and identify the best possible combination of technologies given operator and facility constraints. Our experience as a rotating equipment OEM, combined with our expertise in electrification, automation, and digitalization (EAD), makes us uniquely capable of identifying synergies to optimize total plant efficiency and maximize return on investment for project stakeholders.

And as you mentioned, we can also provide various forms of financing for projects, which can be critical to achieving the final investment decision (FID).

8. OvikEnergi and Liquid Wind AB are expected to commission FlagshipONE in Sweden, subject to a final investment decision. Can you shed some light on this for our audience?

FlagshipONE will be the first of as many as 500 standardized eMethanol plants that Liquid Wind plans to build worldwide over the next three decades. This first-of-its-kind facility will capture as much as 70,000 tons of biogenic CO2 per year and combine it with green hydrogen to produce 50,000 tons of carbon-neutral eMethanol. The methanol will replace hydrocarbon fuels in shipping operations, preventing the emission of approximately 100,000 tons of CO2 per year. The next Flagships, like FlagshipTWO, will have as much as 2-4times the capacity of FlagshipONE.
Siemens Energy is providing the 70-MW Silyzer electrolyzer for the plant, power distribution infrastructure, instrumentation, motors, drives, plant-wide automation, and digital solutions, including the process and operation digital twins.