Spotlight On: Kevin Poet, Charlotte Vice President of Operations, Siemens

Spotlight On: Kevin Poet, Charlotte Vice President of Operations, Siemens

By: Felipe Rivas

2 min read AprilCompanies 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, 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. 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

 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.


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Solar: The Ray of Light in Miami’s Clean Energy Bid

Solar: The Ray of Light in Miami’s Clean Energy Bid

By Sara Warden

2 min read October 2019 — This month, youth climate advocates came together around the world to highlight the global climate emergency, and Miami Beach listened. The city declared its own climate emergency in response and vowed to prioritize climate change on its agenda.

“We are so proud of the youth leaders and their allies who worked hard to make this declaration a reality. We hope the city of Miami Beach will continue this leadership trend by taking concrete action to reduce emissions, like transitioning to 100% clean and renewable energy,” Emily Gorman, a representative for environmental group Sierra Club, told the Miami Herald.

The city has dabbled in renewable energy over the years but certain technologies, like wind, are simply not viable. Land is becoming more expensive, meaning there are few options for wind power developers to install turbines in a cost-effective way. Miami Beach has access to the sea, but offshore wind turbines would be vulnerable to hurricane activity off the Gulf Coast, which could ultimately be more costly for the city. Hydro energy has been generated by Florida for decades in the city of Tallahassee, but now solar power undercuts it economically and the city proposed the closure of one of its two plants in 2017 due to inefficiencies.

Now, developers in The Sunshine State, are focusing on the shining beacon of hope for renewable energy policies: solar power. Initial outlay for solar energy in Miami-Dade is still relatively expensive, coming in at between $11,645 and $15,755, equating to around $2.74/W. But Miami’s privileged position means it has on average 248 sunny days per year, compared with the national average of 205, meaning its residents can reap greater rewards from solar power.

Major U.S. utility Florida Power & Light Company (FPL) is taking advantage of the opportunity to transition to renewables by launching the FPL SolarTogether initiative. “Based on the substantial interest and support that we’ve received on this innovative, voluntary and affordable program from such a diverse array of customers, community partners, businesses, local governments and national clean energy advocacy groups, we’re confident that the time is right for this program,” said Eric Silagy, president and CEO of FPL, to Renewable Energy Magazine.

In the largest community solar program nationwide, FPL SolarTogether will expand solar energy access across Florida by investing in the installation of almost 1,500MW of solar energy across 20 solar plants. FPL will offer access to its solar energy at a fixed monthly subscription cost and credits will be added to bills over the life of the plants. The utility expects most customers will receive a higher bill initially, which will reduce over three to five years and a full payback will be seen within seven years. 

The program could generate up to $249 million in net savings for FPL customers, according to the utility. But the main benefit of the program is democratization of access to solar energy, since not all citizens have the resources to install their own solar panels given the still-pricey initial outlay. “FPL SolarTogether is designed to remove many of the financial burdens associated with private solar generating systems while also providing direct savings in the form of bill credits, making it an affordable option for any customer. Participants could also utilize the program to meet state and federal sustainability goals,” said the utility in a press release.


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