GE, Uniper Announce Decarbonization Collaboration
By Jack Burke21 July 2020
Uniper and General Electric said they will collaborate on the decarbonization of Uniper’s gas-fired power plants and natural gas storage facilities.
GE’s Gas Power business and Uniper will explore, assess, and develop technology options for decarbonization — GE’s first fleet-wide decarbonization program signed with a major power producer.
Producing a detailed decarbonization roadmap by a joint working group composed of both GE and Uniper representatives by early 2021 is one goal of the agreement. This roadmap is to develop an assessment of potential upgrades and R&D programs needed to drive decarbonization, including increasing the use of hydrogen in GE gas turbines and compressors in Uniper’s power plants and gas storage facilities across Europe.
“This agreement with the U.S. manufacturer GE is another proof of our commitment to move ahead with the decarbonization of our power generation and storage facilities,” said Andreas Schierenbeck, CEO of Uniper. “In a few years, Uniper’s European fleet will consist mainly of climate-friendly gas-fired power plants and CO2-free hydropower.
GE and Uniper’s relationship spans decades and Uniper has been first to adopt many of GE’s industry-leading technologies, including the Uniper power stations of Grain, Connah’s Quay or Enfield in the UK, or the Uniper gas storage facilities in Germany like Etzel or Epe. Uniper’s gas turbine installed base, representing more than 4 GW of power across Europe, provides the opportunity for a holistic decarbonization assessment across many GE technologies.
GE Gas Power said it brings decades of experience and leadership in decarbonization including the use of hydrogen as a gas turbine fuel, and in the development of advanced combustion technologies and carbon capture systems. For more than 30 years, GE is a world-leading industry player in the use of hydrogen and similar low heating value fuels, achieving more than 6 million operational hours across 75+ units globally.
Through this agreement, Uniper has taken another important step towards the decarbonization of its natural gas assets. At the beginning of the year, Uniper set itself the strategic goal of climate-neutrality in its European generation business by 2035. Uniper already produces around 24 TW-hours of CO2-free electricity with its hydroelectric and nuclear power plants in Germany and Sweden.
“From now on, our investments will focus primarily on the further decarbonization of the gas assets which could include post combustion carbon capture, utilization and sequestration (CCUS) as well as blue or green hydrogen,” Schierenbeck said. “And here, clean hydrogen will – as far as it is possible and sensible – replace the fossil components of the gas plants. If we also succeed in using our gas storage facilities to a large extent for hydrogen, we will be closer to a solution to the core problem of the European energy transformation: the lack of storage capacity for fluctuating renewable energies on an industrial scale.”
Uniper is a leading international energy company with around 11 500 employees and activities in more than 40 countries. With about 34 GW of installed generation capacity, Uniper is among the largest global power generators. Its main activities include power generation in Europe and Russia as well as global energy trading, including a diversified gas portfolio that makes Uniper one of Europe’s leading gas companies. In 2019, Uniper sold a gas volume of 220 bcm.
“GE is committed to working with all our customers to ensure their gas assets continue to play a role in a cleaner energy future,” said Scott Strazik, CEO of GE Gas Power said. “We are honored to work with Uniper to deliver reliable, affordable, and sustainable decarbonization technologies for their entire GE gas asset base, and provide lower-carbon electricity for Uniper’s customers across Europe. GE has a long history of innovation, and we look forward to utilizing our 80+ years of gas turbine development experience—including six million operating hours with low-BTU fuels—to make Uniper’s decarbonization vision a reality.”