Siemens PG is expanding its power plant business into gasification by acquiring the technology and engineering activities of the Sustec Group, headquartered in Switzerland. The acquisition comprises, inter alia, the German firm Future Energy GmbH as well as a 50 % stake in the Chinese joint venture with the Shenhua Ningxia Coal Group.

Siemens intends by this move to secure what it sees as a key technology in a developing market with ‘attractive growth potential’ and also enhance its own capacity for production of IGCCs. In recent months, several contracts for large-scale coal gasification projects have been awarded to the Sustec-Group, three of them in China.

The demand for steam power plants has risen considerably in recent times, the main driver being China’s immense market with its vast coal reserves. Furthermore, other important markets such as the USA are showing increased interest in coal based power generation, in particular clean coal technologies which are seen as an environmentally acceptable solution for their future electricity requirements. “The share of electric power generated by coal-fired power plants will remain significant,” stated Klaus Voges, chairman of the Siemens PG managing board. In response to persistently high natural gas prices as well as more and more stringent demands in terms of climate protection and supply reliability, the interest in solutions for clean conversion of coal to electricity is also on the rise. “Against this backdrop, innovative power plant concepts for environmentally compatible conversion of coal to electricity such as IGCC plants gain decisive importance.”

To accelerate development and testing of the next phase of gasifier technology, Siemens also plans to build a large-scale coal gasification plant with an overall thermal capacity of more than 1000MW at Spreetal in Saxony. Approval from the anti-monopoly authorities for the acquisition of the Sustec Group is still pending. The value of the transaction has not been disclosed.

In addition to a wide range of coal grades, the Sustec Group process, known as GSP entrained flow gasification, can also utilise biomass, petroleum coke and refinery residues as feedstocks.

With the planned coal gasification plant in Spreetal Siemens intends to enter a new output class. After completion of construction and the subsequent test phase, the plant is scheduled to start commercial production about three years from now. The syngas produced will be used for power generation and production of roughly 600 000 tonnes of methanol per year.