In a world where the fight against climate change has taken centre stage, the energy sector stands as one of the most critical battlegrounds. The transition to cleaner and more sustainable sources of power generation has become imperative, and companies such as Mitsubishi Power Europe are leading the charge.
Equipped with decades of experience and expertise in low carbon engineering and technology, the company is well set to play a key role in the development of future energy transition technologies.
In Europe, Mitsubishi Power leverages its extensive engineering capabilities to deliver a comprehensive range of products and services, from gas and steam turbines to renewable energy solutions and environmental control systems.
To power the next generation and combat climate change, Mitsubishi Power believes that emerging technologies and solutions such as storing energy and digitisation can help address current challenges.
With Javier Cavada, President and CEO of Europe, Middle East and Africa (EMEA) of Mitsubishi Power at the helm, the company aims to play a pivotal role in shaping the future of sustainable energy solutions in Europe and contributing to the transition to a cleaner and more efficient energy landscape.
At 2022’s COP27 Summit, Mitsubishi Power – a power solutions brand of Mitsubishi Heavy Industries (MHI) – showcased its pioneering technology advances in decarbonisation and its applications to accelerate the energy transition.
During the event, Cavada highlighted the role that MENA can play in the opportunities presented by the burgeoning clean hydrogen industry as a main enabler of the energy transition.
“The MENA region has the potential to become a major exporter of hydrogen, with the availability of abundant and low-cost renewables, existing export infrastructure, as well as financing resources,” he said during the opening session of the Summit.
Having committed to achieve carbon neutrality across its operations by 2040, MHI is also adopting a new goal to achieve Net Zero emissions through its entire value chain by the same year.
One key area of its focus will be the decarbonisation of power generation, an industry responsible for around two thirds of global greenhouse emissions.
Speaking with gasworld, Cavada emphasised the need to lower emissions and exploit the potential of energy storage in a world rapidly becoming more and more electrified.
“As we move into electrification of cars and removing emissions everywhere, that means more electricity production and that means more backup for wind, more backup for solar,” he said.
“I have to say with pride, but also with a huge responsibility, that at Mitsubishi Heavy Industries group we have the technologies developed, tested, proven, commercially viable.”
What are these technologies?
In recent years the company has focused on the development of various technologies to convert surplus renewable electricity into valuable fuels or raw materials.
An example of this concept is the production of methanol, a versatile chemical compound derived from carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions originating from coal power plants and hydrogen.
Beyond the realm of large-scale power facilities, various industries renowned for their substantial CO2 emissions, such as steelworks, chemical plants, refineries, and cement factories, present opportune environments for methanol synthesis.
These facilities possess the capability to absorb surplus power generated from renewable sources, thereby contributing to grid stability while concurrently yielding methanol as a valuable byproduct.
This methanol can find applications across diverse industrial sectors or serve as a potent fuel source within power generation plants.
Mitsubishi Power has developed various technologies to convert surplus renewable electricity into valuable fuels or raw materials. Methanol can be produced from CO2 emitted from coal power plants and hydrogen.
These projects come under the three pillars of the company’s strategy, Cavada explained. “The first one is to decarbonise existing infrastructure. We cannot build everything from scratch.”
“We need to decarbonise what is working with this ecosystem and we need to invest into retrofitting.”
Retrofitting can also involve carbon capture, utilisation and storage (CCUS), which can be used to either use or permanently store CO2 captured from various industries.
Cavada explained that this CO2 can then be used to produce sustainable fuels for transport, aviation and shipping.
“The second pillar we have is to make sure that we continue to build the mix that is the hydrogen economy. Hydrogen is the most well-known molecule for humankind and there have been a couple of centuries where we have been able to control it.”
This was in focus last year when Mitsubishi Power signed a full turnkey contract with leading Egyptian O&G Company Alexandria National Refining & Petrochemicals Company (ANRPC) to provide advanced hydrogen fuel conversion technology solutions.
The solution is to be installed at the ANRPC refinery plant in Alexandria and Mitsubishi Power will be responsible for the full scope of fuel conversion solutions for the existing 100 tonne/hour boiler, enabling it to fire up to 100% hydrogen by the end of 2023.
The third pillar firmly revolves around carbon emissions and a carbon value chain for its use. “No matter what you do, you are always going to have carbon emissions and you need to do something with them.”
“We’re working very heavily with everybody in our factories and engineering hubs to get those solutions implemented.”
Projects and collaborations
Partnerships play a key role in driving innovation across industries and the burgeoning green hydrogen sector has been no exception. In 2021, Mitsubishi Power Europe formed a consortium alongside HydrogenPro and H2V Industry to develop and deliver green industrial hydrogen projects.
In the same year, the company also joined a UK-based decarbonisation project with Triton Power and Equinor that will use hydrogen produced from natural gas and carbon capture technology – or blue hydrogen.
According to Cavada, the power plant will utilise a blend of 30% hydrogen and is currently working towards increasing the percentage of blending, eventually it will become fully hydrogen-powered.
The company is also developing hydrogen electrolyser technology at the Takasago Hydrogen Park in Japan.
“Here we have the biggest and only hydrogen park on the planet where you can see all the different [types of] hydrogen production and storage and power generation.”
These technologies are tested and developed in Japan before being exported to Europe, the Middle East and the US.
This includes a 5.5 megawatt (MW) electrolyser jointly developed with HydrogenPro and Chevron New Energies Company, which will be used in the production of green hydrogen at the Advanced Clean Energy Storage Hub in Utah, in the United States, which is designed to convert and store up to 100 metric tonnes per day of clean hydrogen and then use the hydrogen for power generation
In addition to its European and American projects, Mitsubishi Power is also working with Aluminium Bahrain, one of the world’s largest aluminium smelters, to decarbonise aluminium manufacturing.
“They are decarbonising aluminium production which can then be labelled as green aluminium,” explained Cavada. “To do that they will use a power plant with our JAC gas turbine that will be powered by hydrogen while also using carbon capture and storage (CCS) to this same end.”
“These projects cannot be made possible without investment. “Everything we do is about investment. We are investing our technology, our funds, our resources into developing these projects and to deliver them,” said Cavada.
We have a very big climate emergency…
However ambitious the company’s plans are, Cavada remains pragmatic and aware of the challenges that lie ahead.
“The feeling that I have every day and every night is that things are not going as fast as they should,” he said. “But we have the technological solutions, we have the commitment of people.”
“We have a very big climate emergency, it’s getting tough and is going to get tougher for everybody.”
Reflecting on the recently concluded COP28, Cavada emphasised the important role that hydrogen played at the Summit. “Hydrogen was central to so many vital discussions in Dubai simply because it is an enabler of the decarbonised societies of the future – going into 2024 we are very excited for the trajectory that hydrogen is on.
“As a global leader, we have all the requisite technologies available to respond to these ambitions and deliver at the speed and scale required, but we simply cannot do this without widespread collaboration to increase volume and affordability.”
“We are already playing our part to rapidly reduce carbon emissions by 2030 and to triple renewable energy capabilities, a key pillar of the COP28 action agenda.”
It remains to be seen if COP28 will deliver long-term, but for Cavada the focus is firmly on accelerating the speed and scale of development.
“We’re happy to see that things are happening, but I believe we can make things happen ten times faster and ten times bigger. I have a 16 year old daughter and I will do everything possible to make sure she is not suffering from the inaction of our generation.”