A series of announcements this year from Mitsubishi Hitachi Power Systems shows the breadth of the company’s efforts to prepare for the energy transition. MHPS is a prominent global supplier of large gas turbines for power generation, and is a member of Japan’s Green Ammonia Consortium.
Joint Research Agreement in Indonesia
In February, MHPS and the Bandung Institute of Technology (ITB) of Indonesia announced that they would work together to “probe new fuel technologies using ammonia and hydrogen to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, and to enhance technologies for diagnosing the operation of Indonesia’s power plants through use of artificial intelligence (AI) and big data analysis,” according to an article in trade journal Power Engineering. Power Engineering states that “ITB is one of Indonesia’s leading national universities.” The article does not provide further detail on the technologies that will be investigated or the circumstances that led the two entities to join forces. Ammonia Energy has previously noted MHPS’s intention to investigate ammonia as a potential fuel for gas turbines.
Contract for Hydrogen-Fueled Gas Turbines
In March, MHPS announced that it has won a contract to provide gas turbine equipment as part of a landmark project being conducted by the Intermountain Power Agency (IPA) in the American west. The Los Angeles Department of Water and Power (LADWP) is the majority owner of IPA. According to an MHPS press release, “this award marks the first Advanced Class Gas Turbines in the industry specifically designed and purchased as part of a comprehensive plan to sequentially transition from coal, to natural gas and finally to renewable hydrogen fuel, and creates a roadmap for the global industry to follow.” MHPS will provide two complete combined cycle gas turbine power trains rated together at 840 MW of generating capacity.
The press release continues:
This transition will start in 2025, when the turbines will be commercially guaranteed capable of using a mix of 30% hydrogen and 70% natural gas fuel. This fuel mixture will reduce carbon emissions by more than 75% compared to the retiring coal-fired technology. Between 2025 and 2045, the hydrogen capability will be systematically increased to 100% renewable hydrogen, enabling carbon-free utility-scale power generation.“Intermountain Power Agency Orders MHPS JAC Gas Turbine Technology for Renewable-Hydrogen Energy Hub,” Mitsubishi Hitachi Power Systems, March 10, 2020
A January 2020 Ammonia Energy article, quoting a Los Angeles Times report, mentioned that MHPS, Siemens, and General Electric were all in contact with LADWP about the project.
Hybrid SOFC-Microturbine System Put into Operation
In April, MHPS announced that it had started operation of a hybrid solid oxide fuel cell – microturbine system at a facility in the Tokyo metropolitan area. Dubbed MEGAMIE, the equipment is being deployed as a “distributed energy system,” meaning that it will be able to export electricity to the grid as well as provide on-site energy services. Those services include supply of electricity, steam, and heat to the host facility. The system also includes a “large capacity sodium-sulfur battery.” Power capacity figures are not provided.
Natural gas is used for “first stage” electricity generation in the SOFC. “Second stage” generation occurs when “pressurized high temperature SOFC exhaust gas is injected into the MGT [micro gas turbine],” according to an April 13 article in Kankyo Business (“MHPS’s ‘fuel cell + micro gas turbine’ begins operation at Ando Hazama’s research laboratory”). The article continues, “In the future, we are planning to switch to hydrogen fuel that does not emit CO2.”
Total system energy efficiency is projected to reach at least 65%. “CO2 emissions from customers’ factories and buildings can be reduced by about 47% compared to conventional power generation systems,” according to the article.
The new system is the second one MHPS has deployed on a commercial basis. The first one went into operation at a Mitsubishi property in February 2019.
Also in April, MHPS announced that it would henceforth operate under the name Mitsubishi Power. MHPS was formed in 2014 by the merger of Mitsubishi Heavy Industries’ and Hitachi’s thermal power generation systems businesses. It is now “one of the core subsidiaries of Mitsubishi Heavy Industries Group,” according to a company press release. The press release continues, “by providing new technologies to reduce and eliminate CO2 emissions at the point of power generation and storage, Mitsubishi Power is a key participant in creating a decarbonized economy and helping to resolve the challenges facing the global society.”