By: Felipe Rivas
2 min read April — Companies across sectors are fervently working to reduce emissions, switch to renewable energies and use technology to create a cleaner, greener future for the next generations. The same is true for companies directly involved in the energy industry. This year, Siemens AG. announced it will create a new company, Siemens Energy, focusing on conventional power, oil and gas, power transmission and renewable energy to position itself for the future of the industry. In an interview with Invest: Charlotte, Charlotte Vice President of Operations Kevin Poet talks about the decision to create the new power and gas company, some of the challenges and opportunities in the energy industry and the near-term outlook for the industry.
What will be the focus of Siemens Energy?
The operations in Charlotte and Winston-Salem will be part of the new company. The largest manufacturing site in North America is in Charlotte and gives us the opportunity to focus on growing the business in new areas and markets that we have not traditionally been in. Our legacy work at the Charlotte plant is primarily large-scale, fossil-power generating equipment, and that market and demand is going down, mainly due to renewables and energy efficiency, as well as the push for decentralization and new technologies. We believe this trend will continue, and for us to thrive in a new market we have to get into different businesses and expand our portfolio. In the short term, we are looking at smaller, industrial-sized units that companies use to decentralize their power needs. In the future, we will see these units move toward hydrogen-burning technology, and potentially into new businesses altogether in the mobility, or renewables and wind areas. As a manufacturing center, we have the installed capability necessary to manufacture any of the components, products, and systems along the whole value stream. Our growth initiative aims to reshape what the future looks like as far as engineering and manufacturing.
What will the future of clean energy look like?
One of the challenges is balance, as it relates to balancing the needs and the drive to go as fast as we can to clean energy, with the need to continue to supply the demand today with the technology available today. For Siemens, we are the only site in North America that can service the large, traditional generating units that are in power plants. It will be critical for our business going forward, and for our customers, to continue to supply components and provide service for those units until they are transitioned into a cleaner form of energy, or retired altogether. Investment in the energy business is a huge challenge because of the size and scope, the length of the investment and payback. Typically, investing in a power plant is a 20- to 30-year investment. The changing landscape around technology, and what the future of energy will look like, and the volatility when it comes to policy, has a lot of people nervous about making large investments. There is a tug of war between the need to invest and innovate and concern with what the future could look like.
How can companies take advantage of the talent based in the Charlotte region?
The Charlotte region has a developed ecosystem around providing talent. The university system in the region is superb. There is an abundance of opportunities for university partnerships in research, development and workforce training. For example, we do our apprenticeship program through Central Piedmont Community College. They helped develop the curriculum and advised on the training courses, length of time and certifications. They really helped put together a good structured approach to the needs we were trying to fill, and this is happening with other universities across the region as well. For companies looking to relocate to the region, those kinds of available relationships are a selling point.
To learn more about our interviewee, visit: https://new.siemens.com/us/en/company/siemens-in-the-usa/charlotte.html