Creating Connections that Matter

When most people put a plug into a power outlet, they do not think about how the electricity on the other side made its way into their home; they just expect it to work. They flip the switch, the energy flows, and their device turns on like magic – but it is not magic. Honestly, it is the hard work of people like Fei Song, Sarah Tornell Sevillano, Martin Kalcher, and Haris Balta, who are making a difference at Siemens Energy.

With employees in countries around the globe, our team is helping to shape the future of energy by moving power from where it is created to where it is needed. That includes everything from building turbines and transformers to reinforcing power grids to optimizing electricity conversion, and it requires the collaboration of hundreds of people across multiple teams. Their efforts not only affect millions of households, but they also have a lasting positive impact on our environment.

The journey that the power on the other side of the plug makes to a customer’s house is a long one, and it starts with generation. Energy has to be created and harnessed, and while there are many ways in which that can happen, UK-based engineer Fei Song explains that as part of the company’s shift toward sustainability, her team does it with wind. “One wind farm can supply energy for thousands of households – with no damage to the environment!”

Her team is currently working to optimize the performance, security, and reliability of wind turbines, but a new focus on high voltage grids is opening the door to innovations like hydrogen wind farms and smaller transformers. She is especially excited about floating wind farms, which are still in the conceptual stage but could be a reality in a matter of years. “This is our near future, and it will be amazing,” she enthuses. “I’m a small step in a big project, and I’m so proud.”

Fei is also working on the Triton Knoll offshore wind farm project, which will supply clean and sustainable power. This contract to design, supply, and build the grid connection for the wind farm comes with its own set of challenges – one of which is to make sure the wind turbines do not shut down.

When something goes wrong and you understand the root cause as an engineer, it brings satisfaction.

Fei Song

However, Fei and her team enjoy embracing these kinds of technical challenges. “When something goes wrong and you understand the root cause as an engineer, it brings satisfaction,” she says. Right now, her team is designing a protection system to ensure the Triton Knoll wind turbines sustain their voltage so that the Lincolnshire region can have reliable electricity.

After energy is created, it must be moved to the power plant and then to the customer to power those switches and sockets. That is where High Voltage Direct Current (HVDC) team lead Sarah Tornell Sevillano comes in. She manages the commissioning team that controls and protects the cubicles that connect to a high voltage unit, where power is converted from AC to DC. “With DC, you can transport more energy and lose less of it,” Sarah explains.

Located in Germany, her team handles numerous “corridor projects” that convert energy and move it to where it is needed – whether that is within the UK or from Kenya to Ethiopia. Their work also helps to stabilize the power grid across Europe so there are fewer blackouts on those sizzling summer days, which means fewer hospitalizations and deaths.

As she talks about her team, the word “connection” comes up repeatedly: Siemens Energy is about connecting people – whether across borders or across perspectives – through energy, and those connections make the world a better place. “We’re responsible for making sure that when you plug something in, it works,” Sarah shares. “I really have an impact. The work we do drives how we change to a greener future.”

Production Manager Martin Kalcher echoes this sentiment. “Transmission ensures that all people are served with electrical energy,” he shares. Managing five manufacturing leaders who each has a team of up to 100 employees under their supervision, Martin oversees the production of large power transformers that help to save the environment simply by being switched on.

As power moves across the long distances between transmission grids that supply electricity, it needs to be balanced to utilize the existing infrastructure most efficiently. Martin and his teams solve this challenge by supplying phase shifting transformers, which act like small power plants to shift active and efficient power across the entire line. In fact, one transformer can increase a power line’s efficiency by 30 to 40 percent, “and that’s really a big thing,” he enthuses.

His team also recently invested in a new drying plant, which has reduced transformer drying time. Getting the moisture in a transformer just right determines how long it will last and how well it performs, and a reduction in drying time translates to higher output – or less CO2 emissions. “We are going greener and greener!” he says.

Optimizing equipment for maximum efficiency is also the goal of Operations Lead and Project Manager Haris Balta. Working on a dynamic and agile team that he describes as functioning like a startup, he drives innovation through technology – like the helicopter and drone multimodal sensor heads with multiple types of cameras that Siemens Energy deploys to inspect power lines across Germany, Europe and soon, the United States.

The drones collect data that is transferred to an analytics center supported by AI. There, it is processed and used to create a general inventory that is essentially a digital twin of a client’s infrastructure. That infrastructure is then checked for anomalies and failure, providing information a client can use to make maintenance plans to minimize degradation and entropy and avoid service interruptions. “When you prevent damage, you ensure the availability of the power lines.”

No one recognizes the team as long as power is running, but we are really happy. We energize society.

Martin Kalcher

For Haris, this impact is enormously satisfying. “There is almost nothing out there that is like our products. We are changing the industry. I am proud to play a small part in this big story.” That sense of pride is pervasive across the team, whether it is Fei’s delight in creating code to protect windfarms or Sarah’s intense feeling of accomplishment after getting power to wherever it is needed most.

As Martin puts it, “No one recognizes the team as long as power is running, but we are really happy. We energize society. Hopefully, more people have access to stable electric energy. That is the purpose of our work.”