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CERAWEEK: Mitsubishi Power shifts focal point of hydrogen business from Japan to US


US will become "tip of the spear" of energy transition

Company to perfect technologies in the US before global deployment

  • Author
  • Brandon Mulder
  • Editor
  • Benjamin Morse
  • Commodity
  • Coal Electric Power Energy Transition Natural Gas

Mitsubishi Heavy Industries has shifted the focus of its hydrogen business from the Japanese market to the US market over the last year, recognizing that the US will become the "tip of the spear" for energy transition, a Mitsubishi executive said during CERAWeek by S&P Global.

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"My leaders in Japan have recognized that the energy transition is going to happen in the US first," said Mitsubishi Power CEO Bill Newsom in an interview with S&P Global. "As such, our center of excellence for the energy transition is going to be in the US. We've got team members coming over from Japan, and we are the tip of the spear for learning everything."

Mitsubishi Heavy Industries, parent company of Mitsubishi Power Americas, is investing in several areas of the energy transition – hydrogen infrastructure, photovoltaic solar development, battery storage and other decarbonization technologies for the oil and gas industry. Though the company's core manufacturing functions will remain its revenue driver, proceeds from those core functions will increasingly be reinvested in its energy transition activities.

Newsom said that, as the company's "center of excellence," the US will be the first market the company deploys and perfects its energy transition-related products, then it will carry what it's learned to other markets, including Japan, Europe, Asia and the Middle East.

"All that's happened in the last year," he said. "Our company has said that the energy transition is happening here. The [Inflation Reduction Act] was a big helper too – a $369 billion forcing function."

One of Mitsubishi Power's fast-growing areas is its hydrogen infrastructure in the power sector, where it offers turbines capable of combusting methane-hydrogen blends.

"We've gone from a handful of folks on the hydrogen infrastructure team to close to 40 people – significant growth," he said. "We've got a budget to continue to grow that."

The company's hydrogen division was part of the joint venture that developed the Advanced Clean Energy Storage Project in Utah, a hydrogen storage facility that will power the Intermountain Power Project to bring clean energy for the Los Angeles region.

That project, underwritten by a $504 billion federal loan, will repower a shuttered coal plant with Mitshubishi's turbines that will combust a hydrogen-natural gas blend to generate 840-MW of power. The plant will initially blend 20% hydrogen into its gas stream in 2025 and gradually ramp up the hydrogen ratio until it reaches 100% by 2035.

The plant's hydrogen will generated using curtailed renewable electricity that will power 220 MW of alkaline electrolyzers. The hydrogen will then be stored in two salt caverns with a combined capacity of 9 million barrels, or about 150 GWh of dispatchable power from each cavern.

It will be the world's largest clean hydrogen storage facility once it comes online in 2025.