GE Energy and Mitsubishi Heavy Industries have signed a memorandum of understanding to co-develop the “next generation” steam turbine for use in gas turbine combined-cycle power plants. Development of a new advanced steam turbine is viewed by both companies as an important step in meeting customer requirements for increased combined-cycle efficiency and performance worldwide.

GE and MHI are planning, following the usual negotiations and agreements, to pursue co-operation with the goal of designing and developing the world’s most advanced “best of breed” combined cycle steam turbine, which the two companies then would include as part of their respective product offerings.

“This MOU with MHI will lead to a high performance steam turbine that will be able to meet the future customer performance and efficiency requirements of the growing combined-cycle industry,” said Steve Bolze, president of GE Energy’s Power & Water business.

GE has a long history of partnering with other suppliers to accelerate the pace at which advanced technology products are brought to market. “GE and MHI each have developed extensive experience in steam turbines over many decades, but have identified significant mutual product performance benefits in the co-development of the next generation combined-cycle steam turbine,” Bolze noted.

“Given the 100 year maturity of steam turbine technology, incremental performance enhancements require significant new technology investments. By sharing in the development, GE and MHI will look to share best practices and development activities to bring a next generation combined cycle steam turbine product to market faster than either party could individually achieve,” he added.

Much of the current demand for steam turbines is being driven by the strong global interest in natural gas-fired, combined-cycle power generation plants. Steam turbines remain a backbone of the power generation industry, playing a part in generating more than 80% of the world’s electricity.

At a later stage, the two companies may consider co-developing a steam turbine for nuclear power applications. GE is anticipating a potential increase in demand for large steam turbines for nuclear power projects as that sector of the energy industry continues to generate renewed interest.