Mitsubishi Power sees GTCC opportunities Europe

11 October 2021

With the establishment of a new business unit, Mitsubishi Power is aiming to increase its combined cycle presence in Europe, emulating its success elsewhere. James Varley spoke to Jose Aguas, recently appointed VP GTCC Sales, EMEA

JAC gas turbine (Mitsubishi Power)

Mitsubishi Power describes itself as “the global leader in gas turbine technology” but understands it may not be perceived as such in Europe. At the same time the company believes significant new market opportunities are emerging for GTCC (gas turbine combined cycle) technology in Europe, driven, among other things, by the need to balance and stabilise grids that are accommodating increasing amounts of intermittent renewables and also coping with the closure of coal and nuclear plants.

Mitsubishi Power is therefore aiming to significantly increase its visibility in the European combined cycle business. A key step was the establishment, in April 2021, of a new organisation, the Dubai-based GTCC EMEA Business Unit, with Jose Aguas appointed as VP GTCC Sales EMEA.

In this role, Jose, drawing on over 20 years of experience in the power generation technology sector, will spearhead efforts to increase Mitsubishi Power’s GTCC visibility across Europe. Located in Valencia, Spain, he reports to Khalid Salem, who takes on a new role as head of the GTCC EMEA Business Unit in addition to his existing role, president, Mitsubishi Power Middle East and North Africa.

“It may have seemed to some that we were not in Europe. We have in fact been here for over a hundred years”, Jose points out, “with a large installed base including boilers, steam turbines, even a few gas turbines.” However, responding to its assessment of evolving power market conditions, Mitsubishi Power decided about 18 months ago that it needed to “reinforce its gas presence in Europe.”

Why gas power? Because it is controllable as well as achieving high efficiency and low emissions. And looking ahead, with hydrogen fuel and carbon capture, combined cycle technology presents the possibility of having “controllable power with zero emissions”, Jose explains.

Up to around 2025, there are good prospects in Europe for what might called conventional gas combined cycle, he says, while after 2025 “there is great market potential for gas power plus new technologies, which are going to be all about hydrogen production, hydrogen burning, carbon capture and getting emissions down.”

The new business unit is focused on Mitsubishi Power’s JAC (J-Series Air Cooled) gas turbines – which boast reliability of 99.6% and efficiency of greater than 64% in combined cycle.

As delivered, JAC gas turbines are capable of operating on a mixture of up to 30% hydrogen and 70% natural gas.

“By 2025 our gas turbines will be 100%-hydrogen ready”, says Jose Aguas.

He sees the European gas turbine business as roughly divided into two segments: cogeneration applications; and projects where new combined cycle plants are going to replace coal and nuclear units, so the “bigger the better”, which is “why the JAC turbine is the technology we are betting on to get participation in the European market.”

There are in fact two versions of the JAC turbine, JAC and JAC K1 (?), both using what Mitsubishi calls “enhanced cooling” technology, but different in terms of scale, the smaller version more suited to CHP projects.

Mitsubishi Power calls its JAC machines “the most successful turbines in the industry”, and is trying to extend that success to Europe, where its gas turbine market share is low, about 3-4%. The company has sold some F class machines in Poland and H100 units in Germany for CHP, but nothing at the H class end of the market, where the JAC technology is pitched.

One reason is that “for the big units we didn’t have any sales organisation”, says Jose. “Now we are bidding more actively than two years ago. The number of bids we are doing today is three times what we were doing. And because we have an organisation dedicated to it, results will come.” The aim is to increase market share to about 15-20%, “although it will not happen overnight, of course, and we have to be a bit patient”, cautions Jose. The bidding strategy will also focus on projects where there are significant benefits for reliability, fast start up and a high level of operational flexibility –playing to the strengths of the JAC technology.

One reason he is confident that his product “has the potential for success in Europe” is that it is “ready for the future”, with Mitsubishi making big investments in hydrogen combustion and carbon capture technology development.

Also, “our technology is ahead of the curve in terms of reliability”, he says. “There is a race in the big-turbine business, everybody is investing to get the biggest output and highest efficiency, but I think we’re missing the point that the most efficient gas turbine that doesn’t have reliability is worth nothing. These units have to run when they are required to run. They must be available,” not least, within the European context, to fulfil obligations and earn money under a capacity remuneration regime.

“We start with a little bit of a disadvantage because we haven’t been present in the European H class market. But a message being emphasised is our higher reliability over the long term, reflected, for example, in lower insurance costs.

“For validation we deploy new gas turbines in a power plant (T-Point at Takasago) that sells electricity into the Japanese market. So, before we offer JAC technology commercially it has clocked up about 10 000 hours of operation in a real power plant setting, allowing us to gauge reliability over an extended period before we bid any projects. That’s our approach to business.”

A further important selling point is that the new EMEA combined cycle business unit will be supported by Mitsubishi Power’s highly experienced network of “dynamic service centres across the region.”

JAC gas turbine (source: Mitsubishi Power) JAC gas turbine (source: Mitsubishi Power)
T-Point (source: Mitsubishi Power) T-Point (source: Mitsubishi Power)
Shipment of Brazil’s first M501JAC gas turbine to Marlim Azul Energia’s power plant in Macaé, Rio de Janeiro (source: Mitsubishi Power) Mitsubishi Power’s Savannah Machinery Works shipped Brazil’s first M501JAC gas turbine to Marlim Azul Energia’s power plant in Macaé, Rio de Janeiro (source: Mitsubishi Power)
Nakoso, the world’s largest IGCC power plant (source: Mitsubishi Power) Nakoso, the world’s largest IGCC power plant (source: Mitsubishi Power)

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