Mitsubishi Continues Coal-to-Gas Transition in Oklahoma, Also Adds Gas Turbine at Thailand Plant

Mitsubishi Power Americas will install a second 500-MW simple-cycle gas turbine at the Grand River Energy Center in Oklahoma, part of the Grand River Dam Authority’s (GRDA’s) plan to switch the Chouteau-based power plant from coal-fired to natural gas-fired generation.

GRDA and Mitsubishi in 2017 replaced one coal-fired unit at the plant with a 500-MW combined-cycle turbine. The new turbine will operate on blends of hydrogen and natural gas and is expected online in 2026. Mitsubishi Power has said the turbine during testing has provided a 10% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions.

“By replacing its coal-fired units with our advanced J-Class gas turbines, including Unit 4’s hydrogen-capable turbine, GRDA is demonstrating its continuing commitment to cleaner, more flexible and reliable energy production,” said Mitsubishi Power Americas CEO Bill Newsom in a statement.

Tulsa-based GRDA sells wholesale electricity to 75 of 77 counties via 15 Oklahoma public power municipalities. The utility manages a 2.3-GW electric portfolio that includes two natural gas-fired generation facilities, as well as three hydroelectric facilities. It has power purchase agreements for 358 MW of wind generation.

Thailand Project

The Oklahoma announcement comes on the heels of Mitsubishi Power on Oct. 12 confirming it completed installation of the second of four M701JAC units at a natural gas-fired power plant in Rayong Province, Thailand. Mitsubishi Power, a brand of Mitsubishi Heavy Industries, Ltd. (MHI), said the unit entered commercial operation on Oct. 1. Unit 1 at the Rayong plant entered service in late March of this year.

Mitsubishi previously installed four similar, 625-MW M701JAC gas turbines at the 2.5-GW Chonburi Ng Project power station in Chonburi, Thailand. Those JAC model turbines came online across 2021 and 2022. The last two units at the Rayong site are expected to be in service by the fall of 2024.

Worapong Vivatanavanich, chief project development officer for Gulf Energy Development, part of the ownership group for the Chonburi and Rayong plants, in a statement after startup of Unit 2 at Rayong, said: “As with the previous project in Chonburi Province, we faced several challenges, but were able to draw on our previous experience in executing the project. I commend the fact that the second unit started operation as originally scheduled. Going forward, based on a strong relationship of trust, I am confident that we will be able to complete the entire project as scheduled.”

“Utilizing the know-how gained through the construction of the two power plants, under the leadership of Gulf Energy Development, the companies worked as a team to achieve a successful start of operations,” said Akira Takahashi, president and managing director of Mitsubishi Power in Thailand. “Going forward, we will continue to make every effort to ensure that all systems are in operation as scheduled and are operating smoothly. We will also build a reliable system to support long-term operation, maintenance, and inspection following the startup of operations.”

The Rayong plant is located 130 kilometers (about 81 miles) southeast of Thailand’s capital of Bangkok. It is owned and operated by Gulf PD Co. Ltd., a joint venture of Gulf Energy Development and Mitsui & Co. Gulf Energy Development is one of the largest independent power producers in Thailand.

Power from both the Chonburi and Rayong stations is sold to the state-owned Electricity Generating Authority of Thailand.

Darrell Proctor is a senior associate editor for POWER (@POWERmagazine).

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