Q&A: Gas turbines, hydrogen and energy storage

Published on: 
Turbomachinery Magazine, September/October 2020,

Drumi Bhatt is the Senior Director of Market Intelligence and Strategy at Mitsubishi Power. 

Tell our readers about  Mitsubishi PowerMitsubishi Power was formerly known as Mitsubishi Hitachi Power Systems. The company continues to provide power generation and storage solutions. We offer a full range of 50 Hz and 60 Hz gas turbines, from aeroderivatives between 30 MW and 140 MW to heavy duty turbines between 40 MW and 560 MW. All of our gas turbines will be hydrogen-enabled to help meet the decarbonization goals for the power sector. In addition, our power islands include steam turbines tailored to maximize output and efficiency. And our energy storage solutions allow for the safe storage of alternative green fuels such as hydrogen.

What is your most popular model?

Our most popular model is our J-Series advanced class turbine, which has a single turbine output range of 330 MW to 425 MW. With over one million operating hours, it best serves our base load utility-scale clients that need a blend of reliability and efficiency. The J-series can can use a mix of 30% hydrogen and 70% natural gas. We are committed to creating turbines that can run on 100% hydrogen by 2025.

What are some of the biggest trends you have observed with regard to gas turbines?

It’s all about creating a future-proof gas turbine while ensuring flexibility to manage the grid. As the trend towards decarbonization continues, customers do not want to buy a gas turbine package that may become obsolete in 20 years when and if regulations demand 100% renewable power on the grid. We’ve been anticipating this need for a while, which is why our J-series turbines can already use a 30% hydrogen mix, with the goal of being able to convert those same turbines to 100% hydrogen gas turbines in the near- to medium-term future.

Tell our readers briefly about Tomoni.

We are creating the building blocks of the world’s first autonomous power plant, T-Point 2 using the Tomoni digital suite. This digital platform enables advanced analytics and control systems to improve efficiency, generating more electricity with less fuel. The technology monitors and optimizes every aspect of a power plant’s operation; and the processing capacity of the algorithms uses a wealth of information to monitor performance, make continuous improvements to the power plant, and conduct predictive analysis.


Is T-Point 2 open?

T-Point 2, our grid-connected validation facility featuring the M501JAC gas turbine and Tomoni, began operation in Takasago, Japan earlier this year and officially opened in July 2020. By creating our second owned power plant, we’re continuing to validate our newest products on our dime and in real utility scale operations. This ensures our products are thoroughly vetted and protects our customers. The plant is also an important step in achieving our goal of building the world’s first autonomous power plant. This provides real-world operating experience for our digital solutions so again, we’re not testing on our customers. This means that we’re able to bring both an operator and an OEM mindset to the development of customized digital solutions.

What are you doing in energy storage?

As part of our strategy to help our customers decarbonize the power grid, we are investing heavily in energy storage. With more customers setting targets to be carbon neutral in the coming decades, short duration and long duration storage will play a key role. We recently announced a project with the Hecate Grid to supply battery energy storage systems totaling 20 MW (80 MWh) at Johanna 1 and Johanna 2 in Santa Ana, CA. We will service the project under a 10-year long-term service agreement.

We’ve also made strides in long duration storage using green hydrogen. We’re developing the Advanced Clean Energy Storage project in Delta, Utah. And we’ve been issued full notice to proceed for the hydrogen-powered 840 MW gas turbine combined cycle Intermountain Power Project.

What’s next?

Many customers have more coal retirements planned in what we consider Phase 1 of power grid decarbonization: retiring coal-fired power plants and replacing them with a combination of renewable power and natural gas. But for some power sector customers, Phase 1 has already played out. In California, for example, almost all coal-fired power generation has already been retired. So the question is what comes next? We believe that Phase 2 will be to replace natural gas with a combination of renewables and short- and long-duration energy storage. ■