Siemens counts on efficiency-increasing technologies to reduce greenhouse gases and mitigate climate change
Leading supplier of solutions for environmental and climate protection - Investments of more than €2 billion per year in related technologies - Significant growth potential in attractive markets
Worldwide climate change is a fact. Governments and industry must join forces to create a global framework for setting CO2 limits and establishing an effective emissions trading system. Hermann Requardt, head of Siemens’ Corporate Technology and member of the company’s Corporate Executive Committee, is convinced that the increased use of innovative solutions is the key to reducing greenhouse gas emissions: “Many of these solutions are already available today. There are examples in virtually every field of power generation, power transmission and power use - in buildings, lighting, household appliances, transportation and industry, for example. Siemens is developing technological innovations that help save energy and limit greenhouse gas emissions across the board,” said Requardt at the Media Summit in Erlangen, Germany. Siemens holds a total of some 30,000 patents for environmental and climate-relevant solutions and invests over €2 billion a year in related research and development. The ten leading technologies alone, which are part of the Siemens portfolio, can reduce technology-related CO2 emissions by 10 billion tons - an amount equal to 40% of the current level. The company intends to achieve a 20% increase in energy efficiency at its plants and locations by 2011.
In the last 50 years, the average temperature of the earth’s atmosphere has risen by 0.13 degrees per decade. The effects have been particularly evident in the Arctic. Over the last 100 years, average temperatures in the northern polar region have risen twice as fast as in the rest of the world. If this trend continues, the Arctic Ocean will be ice-free by the middle of the 21st century. Other expected consequences of unmitigated climate change include droughts, floods, storms, the extinction of a large number of plant and animal species, famines, and large-scale human migrations. In the economic sphere, the direct consequences of climate change could reduce world GNP by as much as 5% a year. As energy demand increases worldwide - by 2030, primary energy needs (coal, oil, natural gas, nuclear power and renewable energies) will be nearly 50% higher than they were in 2004 - an entire bundle of technological solutions will have to be implemented in order to guarantee future economic growth and prosperity and turn the challenge of climate change into an opportunity for all.
Increased efficiency in the generation, transmission and use of energy - on the part of producers as well as consumers - will play a key role. “The best energy is the energy you don’t use since energy saving is the only way to effectively limit greenhouse gas emissions. By its very nature, increased efficiency also benefits customers since it reduces resource consumption and costs,” explained Requardt.
Siemens products and solutions are already making a decisive contribution to environmental protection and improving the quality of life. The company holds some 30,000 patents in the area of environmental and climate protection. These inventions create above-average opportunities for long-term growth. Innovations are the key to success: “We invest more than €2 billion a year in eco-friendly technologies. Our 50,000 R&D employees are ensuring that Siemens’ business activities in environment and climate protection will become even more important in the future,” said Hermann Requardt.
Today, greenhouse gas emissions total some 44 billion tons of CO2 equivalents a year. Of these emissions, 26 billion tons are energy-related (the rest are generated by agriculture and forestry). Implementing only the ten leading technologies worldwide, all of which are part of the Siemens portfolio, would yield an annual reduction in CO2 emissions of 10 billion - that is, a nearly 40% cut in all energy-related emissions - by the year 2050. And this figure does not take into account further technological progress or growing markets. Here are just a few examples of potential savings:
Efficient power generation
- If all power plants were operating at the maximum efficiency levels now possible, annual CO2 emissions would be cut by 2.5 billion tons - that is, by two-and-a-half times the figure for all of Germany.
- The world’s most advanced combined cycle power plant, which Siemens is currently equipping with the world’s largest gas turbine, will achieve an efficiency rate of 60% (compared to an average of only 38% at German coal-fired plants). By building 20 new combined cycle power plants, each with an efficiency rate of 60%, every year until 2050, it will be possible to reduce CO2 emissions by a further 1.6 billion tons. This innovation alone can reduce CO2 emissions at fossil-fuel power plants by a total of 4.1 billion tons a year - an amount equal to the current figure for all of Europe.
- The 6,300 Siemens wind turbines currently in operation worldwide are cutting CO2 emissions by 10 million tons a year. By 2050, wind power could reduce total emissions by 600 million tons a year.
- A geothermal power plant, which will supply electricity to some 6,000 four-member households, is currently under construction in Unterhaching, near Munich. In addition to electricity, the thermal water generated by the plant will provide heat for about half the town’s 20,000 inhabitants.
Efficient power transmission
- High-voltage direct-current transmission systems use significantly less energy and generate correspondingly less CO2 than conventional alternating-current systems. For example, an 800-kilometer transmission line that Siemens is now building in India will reduce CO2 emissions by 690,000 tons a year.
Efficient power use
- Over 10% of the electricity consumed in Germany and nearly 19% of the electricity consumed worldwide is used for lighting. Potential reductions in this area are substantial and easy to achieve since energy-saving lamps and LED luminaires use up to 80% less electricity than conventional light bulbs. As a result, Osram calculates that a 30% switch to energy-saving lighting technologies worldwide - in private dwellings, factories and street lighting - would reduce CO2 emissions by 270 million tons a year.
- The reductions achievable by optimizing energy use in buildings - namely, through better insulation and lighting, advanced heating and climate-control systems, and building automation - are even greater: two billion tons of CO2 a year. Siemens has already modernized 6,500 buildings worldwide in so-called energy performance contract projects, which guarantee savings of more than €1 billion and CO2 reductions of 2.4 million tons. Investments are financed by savings - a triple-win situation for customers, Siemens and the environment.
- Siemens’ piezo-injection technology reduces fuel consumption and CO2 emissions in automobiles by some 20%. Trains are eco-friendly means of transportation by their very nature. For example, a high-speed Velaro E train - when half-full - consumes only two liters of gasoline per seat per 100 kilometers. Rail systems still harbor considerable savings potential: by feeding braking energy back into the power network and using light-weight materials, Oslo’s new metro consumes 30% less energy.
Environmental and climate protection is a key component of Siemens’ new Fit for 2010 program. For Siemens, climate protection is not only an obligation to society; it is also a business opportunity with significant growth rates - for example, in wind power, which is expected to account for 50% of all power generation from renewable energies (excluding water) by 2020. Experts predict that the world market for wind power systems will grow from some €10 billion (in 2004) to €25 billion in 2011 - an annual increase of 14%. Siemens’ wind power business has grown nearly 50% in the last twelve months alone.
Growing markets are always attractive for companies. “Climate protection can become a triple-win situation: customers, nature and companies can only win with products and solutions for climate protection customers,” said Requardt. Energy-efficient motors provide a good example: by using advanced, electricity-saving motors from Siemens and controlling the motors’ rotational speed with frequency converters, customers can cut electricity costs by up to 60%. As a result, investments in such drives pay for themselves in less than two years. The environment profits from the reduction in CO2 emissions. And the potential is impressive: electrical drives account for some 65% of all industrial electricity consumption. Replacing, wherever possible, all industrial motors worldwide with energy-saving motors and frequency converters would reduce CO2 emissions by 360 million tons a year. For a producer like Siemens, the market for exchanging industrial motors is highly attractive. In Germany alone, 88% of all industrial motors are still uncontrolled - an enormous savings potential.
A broad energy mix is the prerequisite for sustainable, climate-compatible power generation at competitive costs. It includes, on the one hand, the development of regenerative energy sources like water, wind, solar, biomass and geothermic systems as well as power generation from waste materials and the further use of nuclear power and, later, nuclear fusion. By making power generation more decentralized, the development of regenerative energy sources will create new challenges - for power grid stability, for example. On the other hand, coal and gas will continue to be a key part of the energy mix for the foreseeable future - due to their high energy density, the large installed power plant base and the existence of substantial reserves. In 2020, two-thirds of all the electricity produced in the world will still be generated from fossil fuels.
Therefore, the largest CO2 reductions will be achieved by advanced, high-efficiency power plants. Siemens assumes that potential reductions will total over 4 billion tons by 2050. New technologies for CO2 capture and subterranean storage as well as the identification of secure storage sites for carbon dioxide are also key aspects of the effort to mitigate climate change.
A 20% increase in internal energy efficiency by 2011
Siemens has launched a new energy efficiency program for its production facilities worldwide. The goal: to increase energy efficiency from 2006 to 2011 by 20% relative to production volumes and a comparable portfolio. Siemens’ environmental reporting system currently covers over 300 locations worldwide. These locations account for about 80% of the company’s total energy consumption. With the same energy mix and production volumes, a 20% increase in efficiency would entail a corresponding reduction in CO2 emissions. Siemens currently emits some 4.53 million tons of CO2 equivalents a year as a result of electricity and heat consumption, the use of industrial gases, the operation of a motor pool and business trips.
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