Spotlight on: Presidential review & preview

17 June 2019

The outgoing and incoming EUTurbines presidents share a review and preview on the association’s key priorities and processes, achievements and challenges. Michael Ladwig (GE Power) has been EUTurbines President since April 2016. Michael’s position has been taken over in May by Thomas Thiemann (Siemens Gas & Power) who previously served as Vice-President.

Can you share your thoughts on the key priorities of your presidencies? And Mr. Ladwig, can you also share how those discussions evolved during your mandate?

Mr. Ladwig: A key topic of my presidency was, to explain the changing role gas and steam turbines play in the energy mix and in industrial applications. At the beginning ofmy presidency I mainly stressed the importance of gas turbine technology as flexible back-up for renewables and the challenges deriving from that new operational regime. This message has now been understood by policymakers.

But with the European Commission, in line with the Paris Agreement objective, targeting a carbon-neutral economy by 2050 it became obvious that the future European energy mix will move away from gas turbines operating with fossil fuels. This is why during my presidency our industry sat down and developed a joined commitment to adapt the turbine technology to renewable fuels. This consensus of EUTurbines members sets a very strong signal to all players in the European energy policy arena. 

Mr. Thiemann: Based on this industry commitment we launched a campaign. Most people are not aware that the technology of gas turbines is not tied to fossil gas but can provide its benefits also when operating with renewable and decarbonised gases. EUTurbines will continue to build on our gas turbine industry’s commitments to drive the transition to renewable-gas power generation, highlighting the need for dispatchable decarbonised power generation.

We will also emphasise the potential of steam turbines combined with thermal storage and re-electrification as well as converting waste heat and gases from energy intensive industry processes into useful power. Additionally, we will work on further optimising efficiency and flexibility of turbomachinery.

What would you call the biggest achievement of the association under your leadership?

Mr. Ladwig: The most remarkable achievement might be the signature of all EUTurbines member under the renewable gas commitments, in the framework of the Power the EU Campaign. The European Gas Turbines industry is pledging itself as essential part of a carbon neutral energy system.

Other big accomplishments that should be mentioned are the two Horizon 2020 projects Flexturbine and TURBO-REFLEX, who’s consortia are supported by EUTurbines. With these projects our members committed to joint R&D efforts for adapting turbomachinery technology to the flexible operating schemes of the new energy system.

Finally, I want to highlight our dedication to the work done in ETIP-SNET, the European Technology and Innovation Platform for Smart Networks in the Energy Transition, established by the European Commission to advise on R&D topics. We are strongly involved in the different Working Groups, especially WG 3 on Flexible Generation.

What are the key messages that need(ed) to be passed on to policy makers and other stakeholders

Mr. Ladwig: We definitively achieved a common understanding among relevant stakeholders that gas turbines have a crucial role to play when it comes to ensuring electricity supply in a system dominated by variable renewables and contributing to the stability of the grid. However, we discovered that there is a limited awareness about the capability of gas turbines to process renewable gases. The dissociation of “gas turbine technology” from “fossil fuels” in the political discourse needs to be a core focus in our future communication.

Mr. Thiemann: One key message is definitively that gas turbines have the potential to be a green technology. Our many meetings over the past years – bilateral or at working groups, talks or conferences – showed us, that most stakeholders are surprised about the capabilities of turbomachines to operate with renewable fuels. In the same way they are surprised to hear that steam turbines are essential components of geothermal or concentrated solar power plants or in conjunction with thermal storage solutions add flexibility to the grids.

Both turbine technologies fit very well into a renewable energy system, Therefore, our key message should be: Investing in turbine technology is “future-proof”

Why is cooperation with relevant stakeholders important for EUTurbines and who are the main cooperation partners of the association?

Mr. Thiemann: Today’s challenges require a wholistic response and systemic thinking, rather than a focus on separate components. We build on the strong partnerships we have and will continue to reach out to all actors of the Energy Transition. I see the need to go into an open dialogue, aiming at a joint identification of smart pathways towards a cleaner energy system. This includes customers as well as the upstream sector.

Embedding turbomachinery in green energy solutions allows affordable electricity and heat, hence we expect a technology-neutral approach from our partners. EUTurbines is a driving force in this green revolution of the gas sector. Our future collaboration partners are actors in fields like sector coupling, but also in the production of hydrogen and other renewable gases.

What would you recommend to your successor?

Mr. Ladwig: Thomas is already deeply involved in the leadership of EUTurbines since several years. I would recommend him to use the momentum gained with the campaign. The activities need to be transformed into continued and active communication efforts. This is quite a challenge for an industry association in times when our sector faces difficult market conditions.

I want to wish him all the best and success in this challenging, yet very interesting period ahead. As I am continuing my activities in the EUTurbines leadership team in the role of a vice president, I will have the chance to support him on this journey.

Something you would like to share with you predecessor.

Mr. Thiemann: Michael did a remarkable job in actively representing our sector in many key areas. I would like to especially highlight his efforts in European research policy activities and his dedication to finding consensus among members on key policy topics. In the name of all members I would like to thank him for his personal commitment.  I am ready to build on this and continue the path, especially considering our social responsibility for climate protection by smart technical solutions.

EUTurbines would like to thank Mr. Ladwig for his professional dedication, as the association benefitted from his experience and guidance in a fast-changing environment. Our members and the Secretariat are looking forward to continuing its work with Mr. Thiemann.

Download the publication