Kenji Ando is Senior Executive Vice President of Mitsubishi Heavy Industries (MHI), President and CEO of MHI Power Systems, and President and CEO of Mitsubishi-Hitachi Power Systems (MHPS). MHPS is an energy joint-venture established in 2014 by MHI and Hitachi. Ando is a 40-year veteran of MHI. Turbomachinery International recently visited him in Japan and enjoyed a tour of several MHI facilities. He discussed the state of the gas turbine market, the extent of the current downturn, new technology, and alternative technologies.
What is your take on the gas turbine market now. Do you think the downward trend in gas turbine orders is temporary?
I think that the gas turbine market is shrinking temporarily, but it should recover after two or three years. Most observers see a historical shift away from the large gas turbine in power generation due to renewables.
Do you think we will stop making bigger gas turbines? Is a temperature of 1,700°C and 65% efficiency
We view the global energy sector as a continuously changing one. We see both the need for large 600 MW to 700 MW gas turbines which will address increases in renewables, as well as the requirement for flexibility to have more efficient generators. At the same time, it is vital to reduce CO2 emissions. The focus of MHPS will be to continue improving efficiency to 65% and beyond. Where needed, we can adjust output to reflect market needs.
What prospects do you see for alternative technologies to the gas turbine, such as the fuel-cell hybrid?
We naturally think a hydrogen gas turbine is the most feasible technology for a renewable energy society. It offers high performance and quick response for renewable energy with no CO2. We expect significant improvements in the coming years in battery technology that will enable more renewables.
As a leader in the energy sector, we foresee greater global opportunities for geothermal power. Finally, small fuel cells are another technology that are coming into their own as a very clean source of power. Energy companies are looking at ways to make hydrogen more easily accessible.
GE and Siemens’ gas turbine businesses are downsizing. How can Mitsubishi avoid a similar situation?
Our manufacturing capacity is smaller than GE or Siemens. Additionally, we can develop reliable GTs utilizing long-term verification at our T-point facility in Japan. We feel that we understand the power market and the direction it is taking. We also look at history as a guide and use that to determine our growth structure and demand. We think this approach has been essential in our setting of production capacity and avoidance of overshooting the market.
What are you considering for your 30 MW gas turbine?
We are now looking into all possibilities. This includes the scaling down of a larger MHPS machine, the uprating of a Hitachi GT, MHPS JAC technology, PWPS technology, or a combination of these.
Do you see aeroderivative technologies from PWPS flowing into other models?
That remains a possibility we are exploring.
You talked about becoming the leading gas turbine OEM, surpassing GE. How will you achieve this?
MHPS was already the global industry leader for F-class and above for the first half of 2018. There is a reason why customers chose MHPS over the others. Our gas turbines are acknowledged as having unmatched reliability and efficiency. The industry has been clear; it trusts MHPS and it wants our technology.