Two years ago, the Siemens plant in Görlitz, Germany, was on the verge of collapse. Now Siemens, the State of Saxony and the Fraunhofer Institute have signed a declaration of intent to strengthen the site in the long term and support structural change in the region.
The Siemens site in the German region of Görlitz is close to both the Polish and the Czech Republic borders. The site will not only house an innovation campus and start-up accelerator but also a hydrogen research laboratory, turning the site into a competence centre for hydrogen technologies.
Back in November 2017, Siemens said it was going to close the plant completely, but after several protests, the Dax Group relented and promised to develop a concept for the future. This is where the hydrogen focus fits in.
Together with the Fraunhofer Institute, Siemens plans to set up a laboratory for hydrogen research, where around 100 jobs are to be created over the next five years. The investment will amount to around 30 million euros. “With this pact for the future, we’re fulfilling our promise to play an active role in shaping structural change in Lusatia,” said Siemens CEO Joe Kaeser.
The company is pursuing two goals with its hydrogen research: The first is to investigate the production, storage and use of hydrogen. Furthermore, research will be conducted in Görlitz in the field of “decarbonized industrial processes”: The Siemens researchers will investigate how hydrogen technologies can reduce CO2 emissions in energy-intensive industries.
In addition, areas are to be created on the plant site where technology companies can settle and exchange ideas; the innovation campus mentioned above. It is hoped that young companies will also be able to develop in the vicinity of these technology companies. “Establishing an innovation campus as well as the research and development activities for climate-friendly and digital industrial processes creates new high-skill jobs,” said Minister-President Michael Kretschmer.
Siemens plans to convert the site in Lusatia into a CO2-neutral factory by 2025. For example, the process heat for operating the steam turbine test benches is to be sustainably generated and overall energy consumption reduced.