Yasin Kasirga, GE Vernova - Decarbonisation, Renewable Energy, Carbon Capture, Hydrogen, Energy Grids, Hydro Power, and More #001

James Taylor and Alison Burns host “The Ethical Futurists” podcast, delving into sustainability, ethics, and their increasing importance. They discuss renewable energy, ethical investing, and future trends in sustainability with various experts. Yasin Kasirga from GE Vernova highlights decarbonization efforts in the energy sector and discusses carbon capture technologies, the impact of new independent energy companies, and the challenges of global energy transitions. The podcast emphasizes collaborative efforts for a sustainable future and ethical decision-making in environmental policies.

Sound Bites:
“Sustainability isn’t just a trend; it’s a necessity for future survival.”
“Ethics and sustainability are intertwined, shaping a better world for tomorrow.”



Yasin Kasirga leads GE Vernova’s Decarbonization business in the Middle East & Africa. He collaborates with customers and partners to achieve Net Zero targets, focusing on economic viability and a decarbonized energy future. Solutions include pre-combustion decarbonization, low-carbon/no carbon fuels, and carbon capture technologies.

Yasin has 18+ years of experience in strategy, business development, marketing, and sales, with a strong track record in gas plants and renewables. He held leadership roles in GE, contributing to wind, hydro, and hybrids business development.

Recently, he served as Senior Energy Advisor and member of the Energy Transition Team for COP28, leading initiatives on renewable energy and energy efficiency. He co-authored the report “Tripling Renewable Power and Doubling Energy Efficiency by 2030.”

Before GE, Yasin worked with Alstom Turkey, Gama Power, and Calik Enerji in project management and EPC roles.

He holds degrees in Business Administration, Mechanical Engineering, and an Executive MBA from Middle East Technical University and completed GE’s leadership development program (XLP).

The Ethical Futurist is a highly sought-after keynote speakers, often booked months or even years in advance due to his exceptional expertise. Given his limited availability, it’s crucial to contact him early if you’re interested in securing a date or learning how he can enhance your event. Reach out to The Ethical Futurist now for an opportunity to bring his unique insights to your conference or team.

James Taylor 0:00
Hi, I’m James Taylor. And I’m Alison Burns. And together we are The Ethical Futurists. Now, you’re listening to The Ethical Futurists podcast where we dive in to the world of sustainability, ethics, and why these ideas today are more important than ever, ever before. Now, join us as we engage with leading thinkers, with business leaders, with academics, with entrepreneurs with investors, and changemakers. To uncover the latest ideas shaping a more ethical and sustainable future. We’re going to be covering a lot of different things in this podcast as well.

Alison Burns 0:41
Indeed, from sustainability, innovation to future trends and ESG. Our conversations

James Taylor 0:48
span a wide array of topics, including renewable energy, we’re going to be looking at Clean Tech, ethical investing,

Alison Burns 0:56
food systems, and much more. Yep,

James Taylor 0:59
in each episode, we explore really crucial issues such as carbon emissions, the circular economy, we’re going to be talking about rewilding net zero carbon goals and the future of food and energy, something that Alex and I are really passionate about.

Alison Burns 1:16
So whether you’re interested in lab grown meat, alternative proteins, sustainable finance, or climate related risks, we’ve got you covered.

James Taylor 1:26
Yasin Kasirga leads GE Vernova’s decarbonisation business covering Middle East and Africa. Yes, he and his team are closely collaborating with GE maneuvers customers and partners to achieve their individual decarbonisation Net Zero targets while keeping an eye on economic viability and supporting them and strengthening their position for a decarbonized energy future. The collaborative decarbonisation solutions span a wide range from ready to deploy as well as emerging innovative solutions from pre combustion decarbonisation through low carbon, no carbon fuels to post carbon and combustion, carbon capture technologies. We’re gonna be exploring all these things and maybe a little bit more in this conversation today. Yes, he has a huge background, huge experience, technical and commercial 18 plus years, you look far too young to have that in building at developing selling on the five gigawatts of gas plants more than six giga watts of renewable hydro, solar, geothermal, 25 plus wind power plants within Europe, Middle East and Africa. And we’re also going to be touching on his role, the work that he did as a senior energy adviser and member of the energy transition team, leading the initiatives on the cop 28 Climate Conference at the office of the UAE presidency, climate change, special envoy and we’re going to cover that as well. So lots lots to cover, Yasin Great to have you on what currently has got your focus, what are you currently focused on just now?

Yasin Kasirga 2:51
First of all, thank you very much for having me. I think what’s going on right now is a once in a lifetime thing because just two weeks ago, the company that I’m working for GE Vernova, it began operating as an independent industrial leading investment grade company it made IPO and that company is going to incorporate all the legacy Ge energy businesses ranging from steam turbines, gas turbines, small modular reactors, onshore wind, offshore wind, hydro electrification, software, electrification solutions, orchestration of it together with solar storage, energy, conversion, as well as consultancy services, as well as energy financial services. So, it’s a company very recently established as a standalone company. And we are, I mean, I’m also one of the founders of the company, which I’m very proud. And, and this company is going at the right now having the technology of more than 1/3 of the world’s total electricity generation. I’m talking about more than 54,000 wind turbines 7000 gas turbine, so super excited.

Alison Burns 4:04
Yeah, that’s great. Well, this is amazing that you’re here, actually, because we want to pick your brains further. So what do you feel are your top accomplishments given your role at GE Vernova? And also the role at COP 28?

Yasin Kasirga 4:21
Well, over there I’ve been I just close my eyes, let’s say a couple of things are coming. First is is James mentioned about these renewables and then the projects between 2020 and 2021. Together with my team, we have delivered more than 26 wind farms into life. And what makes it very remarkable for me is it was right in the middle of COVID. There were curfews everywhere. In the end. We are moving like 60 meters 70 meters of pieces. It was a super challenge. And there was also some other time constraints that we need to fulfill. But I think that’s something that me and my team will be proud until, till the end of our lives, let’s say. And then, of course, I mean, I had the chance to really have my hands as a privilege to deliver more than five gigawatts of gas plants more than 60 out of renewables. And last but not least, of course, during my time in cop 28, while I was working as a part of the energy transition team, there was many initiatives that I think really made a lot of success, but the one that I was leading together with the team, and I need to mention my colleague, Harley Higgins as well, kudos to her. It’s tripling the renewable energy capacity and doubling energy efficiency. And it was a broader effort together with Irina, with global renewables Alliance as well. And it was a full building blocks of rallying all the countries till the end, in order to get this global renewable pledge to be signed and agreed. And eventually, I’m really super, super happy to see it taking its place in the final negotiated outcome text,

James Taylor 6:19
one of the areas that you’re passionate about. And as I learned a little bit about when more about when we retired cop 28 was around carbon capture both direct carbon capture and then what we often think about we’re about to hear about carbon capture which of these technologies and you may think Can you speak a little bit the differences between these two, which these two kind of technologies you think has the most potential for this journey we’re taking towards more sustainability?

Yasin Kasirga 6:44
Absolutely. Well, I think when you look at these technologies, the carbon capture generally we we are referring to capturing carbon from a specific source, and it can be like an exhaust stream of a gas power plant, it can be from a current process that’s emitting carbon, but directly capture is literally capturing the carbon dioxide from the air we breathe light from the atmosphere. And if you look at the technology readiness levels, together with the commercial scale, the bankability the the feasibility of these projects, the carbon capture is the one that I mentioned on the on the Point Source Capture is already there. And I think that has the biggest potential in the upcoming decade, not only because you can deploy it to many different sectors, we call it sector a couple things. So you can deploy it to the power sector, you can deploy it to the aluminium smelters, you can deploy it for for cement steel manufacturing, which which gives a lot of, I would say, leverage for all the sectors to get the most out of it. And apart from that, you can go up to like 95% capture of the co2 from the emissions. And at the same time, I believe the direct air capture technology, which is already there, as well today, but the real deal is right now it needs some more time to be deployed at scale. And that’s generally always the curve that we see you have the technology, most of the technologies that we are talking about is readily available. But when it comes to really deploying the mid scale, when it comes to really reducing the overall cost of the investment, together with the policy framework together with the financing solutions, that’s what it takes. But when it comes to direct air capture, we also see a huge potential over there we are as je Werner will be working on it as well. And then we believe it’s going to be a full complementary solution to the regular carbon capture technology that we are currently having right now. And it will eventually help most of the the emitters to be even going for carbon negative. So there will be a point you will start to capture that five 3% That you are not able to capture today. And then you will go negative with direct air capture, you will be able to deploy it wherever you want. And then that’s going to be the complementary nature of these two technologies. It’s like a

James Taylor 9:17
space to the one we think of just now as carbon capture that is proven it’s happening now there’s lots of ways of deploying it. Well, the direct capture is there’s lots of real potential, but it needs to get that level of higher commercialization and we can deploy it.

Yasin Kasirga 9:31
Absolutely, absolutely. Both of these technologies are available complementary, then they are going to be complementary. That’s

Alison Burns 9:38
incredible. I was watching a video about how the carbon is used in the making of concrete. And and how it’s does it turn to limestone as like limestone. There’s something in there the science in there, that makes it actually stronger. So we’re not really encouraging when you think about all this innovation. But I just wanted to mention James and I a few years ago we spent Look for a company in Switzerland called kosali, who actually, I think, started as a family business in the 1930s. And they actually invented the first hydrogen car in 19, in the early 1930s. And they had a patent on it 1935. But hydrogen because of its volatility. It wasn’t the right time it was it was powered by ammonia this car. But now with science and technology, proving that there’s you can do different things with these volatile elements. Where do you see the use of hydrogen within the energies energy field? Well, hydrogen

Yasin Kasirga 10:38
is what we call as an energy vector, which means you can store energy with hydrogen. And you can also use it in many different applications. And you have literally a lot of applications that you can use hydrogen, I mean, just to give you an example, as of now, we have some gas turbines within UAE, which can burn up to 50%. Hydrogen, if you’d like to use it for combustion, or you can go for high heat applications, you can go for mobility, I think what’s going to decide or design, the way the hydrogen is going to be utilized is, again, like the need that is going to be driven by by these industries. So for example, I’m expecting the industry where you need high heat applications, because they may not have a lot of chance to to decarbonize. So probably hydrogen is going to be one of the main sources of those kinds of applications to be to be decarbonize. And another aspect and this is also connected with the carbon capture question. Once we start to capture the carbon, and at the same time generating or producing hydrogen from low carbon resources, then there will be also points that we will be synthesizing hydrogen and carbon bringing them together. And then we are going to have the fields that the aviation industry is looking for, which is the sustainable aviation fields, because things will change, for sure. But that will be the need for the fuels again. So the future fields or the the fuels in the future will be low carbon, low carbon fuels. And I think either engine is also going to play a very big role, or do you

Alison Burns 12:25
think as well, that hydrogen, obviously, I think there’s a there’s a move towards green green ammonia. In the shipping industry? Is that a field that you’re you’re familiar with in terms of the energy transition there? Yes. If

Yasin Kasirga 12:39
you look at the overall carbon emissions right now, it’s like the power industry is around 40% of it, you have transportation, which includes shipping, as well as aviation, you have buildings, and also you have agriculture. So when in terms of agriculture, I mean, ammonia is a big part of the emissions as well. So the way to decarbonize those industries, including shipping is also going to be I generally call it hydrogen and its derivative. So ammonia, certainly is a derivative of hydrogen is going to have a big role, including power generation as well.

Alison Burns 13:17
Are you looking to secure a keynote speaker who’s well versed in sustainability ESG, or any of the engaging topics featured on the ethical futures podcast? Well, look no further connect with the experts at many speakers, to book your ideal speaker today. Just go

James Taylor 13:37
to MENA-speakers.com. That’s MENA-speakers.com. Alternatively, you can drop them an email at [email protected], to book the perfect speaker for your next event. Now, Alison and I are both from Scotland, UK. And we spend obviously, here a lot of time in the UAE, in Scotland in the 1950s 60s, you had a lot of hydropower being created a lot of dams, we have a lot of rain, we have a lot of

Alison Burns 14:15
falls goes down in

James Taylor 14:17
the 70s or so. And then now, there’s been this huge drive towards wind. So that’s either offshore or onshore wind as well, in this region, this part of the world that we’re in just now the Middle East Africa, what are the opportunities that you see when it comes to both wind and hydro because often you don’t hear about hydro necessarily in this part of the world.

Yasin Kasirga 14:40
But you’re asking questions, which are really near and dear to my heart because I was in charge of hydro for GE between 2016 and 2018. And when it comes to renewables, we always talk about the resource availability. So for the wind, we are are always looking for some wind speeds above a certain threshold, but not too much, we look for some certain what we call it like turbulence intensity, as well as you don’t like the wind to change direction every second. So, similarly, for hydrate as well, I mean, you are looking for some certain flow, some certain elevation difference, and it may not be available everywhere, however, there is a solution that is called pumped hydro, which you can artificially build two reservoirs one up one down. And with the technology that we have, we call it pumped turbines. Whenever there is excess power, excess energy, you can store it in the upper reservoir using the machinery as a pump. And when you need energy, you can use it as a turbine and generate energy over there. And there is one right now, that’s going to be completed in UAE. If I’m not mistaken, probably within this year, there is going to be a 250 megawatt pumped storage plant in Hatha. And then there are other projects that in the region is planned to be done. Just to give you an example, on the pumped hydro and the capacity, and the potential of it. In Switzerland, there is one, we call it giant battery, it’s called the Intel plant, it’s 1000 megawatt, in terms of the power, it can store equal to 340,000, electric car batteries of energy over there. So I think pumped hydro is also going to be very important when it comes to balance the grid is law, large storage solution that’s going to support the grid resiliency a lot. And when it comes to it as well, it’s again, a resource thing that I mentioned earlier. And if you look at the overall, you know, from North Africa, to all the Gulf countries that are really certain places that you can harness the onshore and offshore potential. Amazing,

James Taylor 17:13
exciting time doing the work you’re doing Oh, yeah.

Alison Burns 17:18
Well, that when do you feel that there’s a sense of urgency, you know, given climate change and everything. And with that in mind, what’s the hardest part of your job?

Yasin Kasirga 17:29
Ellison we call this, it’s a decade of action. The thing is, the climate change, and the impacts, these are known for years. And then the more we are late in taking action, the more the consequences we are going to face. And the thing is everything is coming together right now I think we are really closing, getting closer to the what we call the carbon budget of the world. Every year we are emitting around 40 gigatons of carbon dioxide. So we need to find a way to really decarbonize as fast as possible, as much as possible. So this means we need to find a way to decarbonize the current energy system, and at the same time, start building the future energy system. And grids are super important. When we say about talking about energy transition, we always say there is no transition without transmission. So that’s also a very big, important and very big part of the energy transition that we need to take care of. And, of course, it’s it’s a race against the time. I

James Taylor 18:49
think we met very briefly, just before cop was about to start. I think we’ve missed an event somewhere. And I could see the hours that you obviously putting in to the cup 28 and all the preparations for that as well. Can you tell us about in this journey you’ve had you’ve been involved lots of different areas of energy. Has it been a key aha moment like a light bulb or something you just went? Either I’m on the right track or you came to a decision or you made a change in some way in how you thought about something.

Yasin Kasirga 19:20
I think what I mentioned about grid and I will give you some some data points. This is a big aha moment. And because the things and maybe I can connect this with the previous question on the hardest part, even if we today in this podcast, if we agree to go for an investment for a project that’s decarbonized. We are going to say let’s go tomorrow we are going to run a start a feasibility study. Once we are happy we will start going to the banks and at the same time we will hire people. We are going to look for the permitting we are going to get Ready for all the pre work and the developing the project, get the financing, get the permits and everything in place. And then we are going to go for a tender, we are going to evaluate it, we are going to award someone that someone is going to start delivering the project constructing it commissioning it, there will be a what we call cod, which is the commercial operation date, while it’s seven years from now. And I think that’s the hardest part of what we are doing. We are trying to really find people that will, that are going to believe in this and be the early adapter, while not everybody is moving at the same pace. And that’s only possible with you know, making them to really imagine and at the same time, see things happening be the early mover, which they are going to be enjoying it later, because there is no other way out, the world is going to go to that direction. Sooner or later, we are going to go there, everybody’s going to go there. So we will not be talking about any product that is not sustainable anymore, that will be a day. And all the idea is to find a way to bring that day as early as possible so that we can continue all this civilization and the the, you know, the the happy life the the beautiful life that we already structured. And coming back to your question on on the on the aha moment. When it comes to grids, let me give you some numbers. As of now, the total installed capacity of renewables whole world is 3500 gigawatts. And the total amount of renewable projects, and I’m not talking about the ones that are being developed, I’m talking about the ones that are in the advanced stage. And this is based on international energy agency’s current report is 1500 gigawatts of those projects, which are all in that stage, they are waiting for green light to be connected to the grid. So grid is probably the most complex machine that we have ever built. But it’s also a relatively old machine. And it needs modernization, it needs to be resilient. So I think that was one of the the aha moments that I had when I just saw these numbers. I

James Taylor 22:26
think we could probably go if we had a bit longer, we could talk about the green job site, because there’s a lot of opportunity in terms of future skills, as well. But we’re gonna finish up here, we’re gonna come to our quickfire round. A couple final questions for you, Alison. First, yeah.

Alison Burns 22:40
Is there a book that you can recommend to our listeners that will enlighten them on sustainable power and the transition to that into that world?

Yasin Kasirga 22:49
Absolutely. I would recommend the grid. Oh, by Dr. Gretchen Baca.

James Taylor 22:56
And what about podcast, our podcast today? What do you listen to a podcast you listen to us? There is

Yasin Kasirga 23:02
a podcast, we started this G, which is hosted by my colleague, Jeffrey Gould mere. It’s called cutting carbon. And I think people will see and hear a lot of different aspects of whole energy transition from technology, policy investment landscape, so I would definitely recommend Great,

James Taylor 23:24
I’ll put that link at the ethical futurist.com in the show notes for here. So you can go and check out that and subscribe to that podcast. Yeah.

Alison Burns 23:29
And just a final question from me. In your view, what does an ethical and sustainable world look like that a planet that you want to leave for future generations?

Yasin Kasirga 23:42
Great question. And I always think about people taking care of the challenge that we have to take care right now, years ago. So what we were supposed to do would be something different. But so taking this into account, I think and I like Latin phrases. So those are themes. So so know yourself. Second is Ad Astra per Aspera

Alison Burns 24:10
Oh, that’s that’s actually Well, I’m a lawyer. And that’s my that’s my legal motto. Yeah. Yeah, that’s what do the stars through.

Speaker 1 24:19
I’ll let you explain that means to the stars through difficulties. Absolutely.

Yasin Kasirga 24:24
It’s not going to be an easy way out. And the last one that I love a lot is opus magnum. So I believe everyone, regardless of their age, and it doesn’t have to be just one opus magnum. So in every phase of your life, you can have your opus magnum. So I think that should be the opus magnum of our generation, to be able to leave and tackle this challenge and to live a world that is really sustainable for the future generations slowly.

James Taylor 24:53
And if people want to learn more about you more about the work of Jeeva Nova if want to connect with you is always the best placement to go and do that LinkedIn.

Yasin Kasirga 25:03

James Taylor 25:06
Great. We’ll put all those links here. Yasin Kasirga from GE Vernova, thank you so much for coming on the Ethical Futurists today.

Yasin Kasirga 25:12
Thank you so much for having me. If you’re considering

James Taylor 25:16
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Transcribed by https://otter.ai