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Analysis

Introducing the World’s Largest Gas Turbine

Wed, 02/19/2014 - 12:08

Over the next decade, natural gas-based power generation technologies will be at the center of Mitsubishi Heavy Industries’ growth strategy for Mexico, driven by the consistently low prices that are expected for this fossil fuel as a result of the shale gas production in North America. Existing CFE plants burning highly pollutant fuel oil will be phased out and substituted by natural gas fueled combined cycle plants, while turbines are becoming more efficient and their capacity is increasing. Mitsubishi Heavy Industries also sees important opportunities in wind, solar and geothermal energy, but the company does not have manufacturing activities for wind or solar power in Mexico. “We are active in the geothermal sector, even though the market is relatively small compared to natural gas,” says Hidetoshi Shigemitsu, President of Mitsubishi Heavy Industries Mexico. “The main business for us is natural gas since we manufacture technology for this sector in Mexico.”

“In the case of Mexico, the Type J Mitsubishi turbine may prove very useful to fulfill the country’s power generation needs,” comments Shigemitsu. The 60 hertz J-series gas turbine achieves a 460MW combined-cycle power generation, making it the world’s largest. Combined-cycle technology uses high-temperature exhaust gas to generate power by a steam turbine, while achieving over 60% thermal efficiency in these applications. Mitsubishi strives to offer the highest efficiency levels in the world. The J-series turbines are flexible since they can use different fuels to generate energy, and can reduce CO2 emissions by 50% compared to conventional coal-fired power generation. “This turbine is compatible with Mexico’s climate change mitigation strategy, which will start to take effect in the coming years,” says Shigemitsu. The first 1600°C J-series turbine provided test results in 2012, validating the initial performance expectations established by Mitsubishi when it was first launched. The growth of the Mexican natural gas sector and the increasing number of combined cycle power plants to be developed will increase the potential to further apply this technology in the coming years.

Today, Mitsubishi is participating in bids to develop combined cycle power plants for CFE in Topolobambo, Escobedo and the Valley of Mexico. On the other hand, the company has participated in the geothermal sector at Cerro Prieto, CFE’s largest geothermal power plant. Even though the size of the geothermal market in Mexico remains limited for the moment, the Los Azufres plant is also receiving support from the company, which is expecting to participate in further geothermal projects in the future. The merger of the power system businesses of Mitsubishi and Hitachi will increase the market share for the company to over 40%, making Mexico one of the countries in which Mitsubishi has the strongest presence globally. “Mitsubishi Heavy Industries has been present in Mexico for over 40 years,” says Shigemitsu. “We have worked on many of Mexico’s challenges and we know how its market functions.”

Mexico also needs clean fuel alternatives for the transportation sector which is one of the main contributors to the country’s total CO2 emissions. “A high speed rail network would be a possible part of the solution to this challenge and Mitsubishi Heavy Industries is very interested in participating in such projects, as we have international experience in unmanned train equipment for airports and other applications,” comments Shigemitsu. “There may not be a major need to develop high speed trains in Mexico today, but there is a big project connecting Texas and Nuevo Leon and we are very willing to participate in order to make it a reality.”