Flagship power plant and equipment firm Mitsubishi Hitachi Power Systems (MHPS) plans to change its name to “Mitsubishi Power” once it receives approval from antitrust authorities in several countries.
The rebrand announced by the Yokohama, Japan–headquartered MHPS on April 24 will reflect a change in ownership announced in December, when Japanese technology conglomerate Hitachi said it would withdraw from the joint venture it entered into with Japanese power equipment giant Mitsubishi Heavy Industries (MHI).
MHI and Hitachi created MHPS in February 2014 to combine their thermal power generation businesses, with an eye toward gaining more clout in a rapidly changing global power market. MHPS has since grown into a massive company with nearly 19,000 employees, and today is a brand-name builder of gas, steam, integrated coal gasification combined cycle, and geothermal plants, and a solid contender in the gas turbine, steam turbine, boiler, environmental controls, generators, control systems, and fuel cell markets.
As POWER reported in February 2019, both MHI and Hitachi have separately moved to rejigger their power sector strategies in response to the changing power landscape. Hitachi has embarked on a cautious approach in the power sector and is centering efforts on explosive demand in digitalization solutions. It is focused especially on grid modernization, through its $11 billion acquisition of 80% of ABB’s power grids business in 2018. That deal is slated to close this year, as Hitachi’s consolidated financial results for fiscal year 2019 suggest.
ABB, meanwhile, in its 2019 Annual Report released in February, said that its divestment of Power Grids is expected to be completed at the end of the second quarter of 2020, following the receipt of customary regulatory approvals. Power Grids is currently operating as an independent businesses, in preparation for the handover to Hitachi, it noted.
Hitachi in December said it would pay MHI 200 billion yen ($1.8 billion) in March, and transfer its 35% stake in MHPS to MHI, which currently holds the remaining 65%. As POWER reported, the withdrawal was in part rooted in a contentious dispute about who would bear losses stemming from boiler installation delays at two 4.8-GW greenfield coal plants—Medupi and Kusile—in South Africa.
MHI, whose corporate roots began in 1884, when Yataro Iwasaki founded Mitsubishi, today operates as an independent company with a substantial stake in the power business (along with equipment and systems for industry and infrastructure and aircraft, defense, and space). The bulk of MHI’s power system revenues comes from gas and steam power generation systems, but it also relies on sales of compressors, aero-engines, nuclear power, renewables, and marine machinery equipment. As company officials told POWER last year, in a bid to expand into the North American markets, the company is widening its focus on low-carbon and carbon-free energy.
MHPS has been spearheading this effort with its “Change in Power” campaign, which essentially seeks to provide power plant owners with “smarter, more advanced ways to achieve their goals.”
When it was established six years ago, MHPS was equipped to sell a fleet of gas turbines whose development integrated technology leaps separately achieved by MHI and Hitachi, and a technical partnership formed with Westinghouse Electric Corp. in 1961. The first gas turbine that figures in its diverse historical legacy is an MHI-completed 730C–class 12-MW machine that came online at Asahi Glass Co. in Chiba, Japan, in 1963. In 2011, MHI developed and began verifying the first 1,600C class J-series gas turbine. On April 15, the world’s J-series gas turbine installed fleet reached 1 million hours of commercial operation, MHPS said.
MHPS has so far also marked numerous other milestones. In October 2014, it merged with Babcock-Hitachi, a Yokohama-based group company that made boilers and air quality control systems. In December 2016, it received orders for two integrated coal gasification combined cycle power plants, and it launched its air-cooled J-series gas turbines.
A key focus for MHPS today is to refine technology for large gas-fired turbines and offer them as coal and nuclear plant replacements, as well as to engineer gas turbines to co-fire with large volumes of hydrogen.
“Going forward, every gas turbine MHPS sells globally will have renewable hydrogen fuel capability. This allows our customers to purchase a natural gas power plant today, and convert it over time into a renewable energy storage facility,” said Paul Browning, MHPS America’s president and CEO of MHPS Americas who was recently also appointed chief regional officer for Europe, Africa and the Middle East.
MHPS is meanwhile also expanding its digital purview, recently establishing a new division, Intelligent Solutions, that will integrate and optimize its Controls Solutions business, its proprietary MHPS-TOMONI digital solutions, and the deployment of MHPS’s much-watched “Autonomous Power Plant. On April 3, the company began commissioning the 566-MW T-Point 2 project, its newest combined cycle power plant validation facility, which it says will eventually host the autonomous plant project.
It is still unclear how long it will take to clear regulatory approvals. When these are cleared, and MHPS adopts its new name, it will also adopt Mitsubishi’s iconic three-diamonds logo. In an April 24 press release, MHPS said the logo font is “a roundish, modern design in a gothic typeface, was adopted to present an image of the advanced, environment-friendly power generation technologies that Mitsubishi Power seeks to offer, while at the same time expresses a corporate stance of responding flexibly to society changes.”
The name change will also affect the many companies that operate within the MHPS group. Mitsubishi Hitachi Power Systems Americas (MHPSA), the company with the most visibility in the U.S., for example, will be named “Mitsubishi Power Americas,” and its engineering arm, MHPS Engineering Co., will be renamed, “MHI Power Engineering Co.” (A full list of planned name changes is here.)