Businessmen in a digital manufacturing plant

Decarbonization of a large brownfield manufacturing plant

By: Barry Powell, North America Head of Siemens Electrical Products Business

With climate change being a significant focus globally, Siemens continues to be a leader amongst major industrial companies to commit to decarbonization and we have made a firm pledge to carbon neutrality in operations by 2030.
 

In late September, at the invitation of the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE), I presented at the AEE World Energy Conference & Expo on our specific efforts to decarbonize one of our large brownfield manufacturing plants in Grand Prairie, TX.
 

Guided by Siemens’ strategic framework called DEGREE, which set ambitious environmental, social and governance (ESG) targets focused on Decarbonization, Employability, Equity, Resource efficiency, Ethics and Governance, our teams at the Grand Prairie plant set out to understand how our processes and infrastructure are contributing to our carbon footprint. We characterized our efforts into four key levers.
 

Lever 1—Reduce Consumption

Achieved by implementing more energy-efficient equipment, possibly eliminating an energy-consuming step.
 

Lever 2—Produce Energy Onsite

Achieved by adding solar arrays to our site. This also offsets the purchase of renewable energy credits (RECs).
 

Levers 3 and 4—Transition to Electrification and Procuring Clean Energy

Achieved by transitioning natural-gas consuming processes to an electrical basis, and off-setting electrical-power usage with the purchase of Renewable Energy Credits (RECs).
 

Lever 5—Fill the Gaps

Achieved with a post-implementation review of infrastructure projects and determination of necessary next steps to achieve net zero by 2030.

At Siemens, Sustainability truly is an integral part of our business­—it’s in our DNA. We do not only empower our customers to drive sustainable growth and transform their industries, but we walk the talk on a daily basis in our own operations.

As we coupled this framework with an evaluation of our present status, it became apparent that we needed to focus first on processes and infrastructure using natural gas. Natural gas represents 48 percent of the total energy consumed, nearly 40 percent of total carbon emissions, and 100 percent of the net MTCO2e (metric tons of carbon dioxide equivalent) emissions at the Grand Prairie site. Consequently, the paint system and the associated gas-fired cleaning and curing stages became the immediate focus of this effort.
 

The Grand Prairie team began a comprehensive assessment of systems capable of producing a finish to withstand the Underwriters Labs (UL) required 600-hour salt-spray test while meeting our environmental objectives. This effort included evaluation of systems designed to reduce heat-loss overall and non-heated cleaning and curing alternatives.
 

Ultimately, we decided on an all-electric paint system. While this system carries a significant increase in electrical requirements and necessary upgrades to the power distribution infrastructure, this increase is offset with the purchasing of RECs in the short term and on-site power generation in the long term. This effort, in addition to partnering with energy providers via Power Purchase Agreements (PPA) or Virtual Power Purchase Agreements (VPPA), will reduce the carbon footprint of this facility by 1,277 net MTCOe—a 77-percent reduction from current levels!
 

Our efforts in Lever 1 to reduce our energy consumption, combined with actions such as the revamping of our HVAC system and facility lighting, as well as adding on-site power generation with photovoltaic arrays in Levers 2, 3, and 4 are expected to result in a in a dramatic decrease in natural-gas consumption (-90 percent), and a corresponding increase in electrical use (+60 percent) at the Grand Prairie manufacturing plant. Partnered with an increase in the purchase of green RECs to offset, the net effect to our carbon footprint is expected to be a 93 percent reduction in net carbon emissions!
 

At Siemens, Sustainability truly is an integral part of our business­—it’s in our DNA. We do not only empower our customers to drive sustainable growth and transform their industries, but we walk the talk on a daily basis in our own operations.

Published: October 14, 2022