UK ‘not fast enough’ on energy transition, says Siemens Energy boss

The UK is not moving fast enough on the energy transition, the boss of the British arm of Siemens Energy has said.

Darren Davidson, who runs a company employing 6,000 people in the UK, said that the country is not on track to meet its targets on offshore wind.

Siemens Energy runs a factory in Hull making blades for the turbines which are popping up off the British coast.

“Siemens Energy employs 6,000 people in the UK, across transmission, power generation, wind, hydrogen-enabled gas turbines, so we’re across all the energy landscape,” Mr Davidson said.

“I think what we need to do is be at the front end, leading and helping our customers and the Government to come up with plans as to what we can to achieve because, if I’m brutally honest, we’re not fast enough.

“I think it’s clear to everyone. From a speed perspective, we need to improve or, I would say, help to do things faster.”

He added: “I think if we go at the current speed our objectives to get 50 gigawatts of (offshore) wind around the UK won’t be achieved. And I think that it’s really important that we recognise that and push for change.”

The UK has reduced its annual carbon emissions over the last decades but still has far to go before it can be considered net zero – that is to say that every year no more carbon is emitted in the UK than is absorbed, for example by the country’s trees.

Along that road the Government has pledged to build enough renewable energy so that all the electricity that is added to the grid comes from decarbonised sources.

Much of this will be achieved by wind power, with nuclear, solar power and other technologies also in the mix.

This could also include burning hydrogen to create electricity. Proponents say that hydrogen can be produced from wind power when it is windy at night and at other times when production outstrips supply. Then it can be burnt when wind speeds are low or demand rockets.

Siemens Energy is currently supplying gas plants which it has ensured can in future burn hydrogen.

“I think you’re always going to need that peaking plant back-up power, and I think hydrogen would give us that,” Mr Davidson said.

“So I see that being part of our future from an energy storage perspective. We will need that because we need to have that immediate responsiveness.”

He said that the challenge now is to get to 30 gigawatts of hydrogen power in the UK, and kicking off the projects is “slightly behind wind” power.

Mr Davidson is only around three months into the role as vice president of Siemens Energy UK&I and Siemens Gamesa UK. He worked his way up in the company, starting as an apprentice aged 16 in Newcastle.