Mitsubishi Heavy Industries bets big on small turbines for datacenters

Another endorsement for the theory that on-prem power generation trumps tapping the grid

Mitsubishi Heavy Industries – Earth's largest source of electricity-generating gas turbines – has tied its future growth to surging demand for datacenters spurred by adoption of AI and new semiconductor plants.

The giant corp on Tuesday delivered a Medium-Term Business Plan [PDF] covering the years 2024–2026 that advised investors it has decided to go all-in on the datacenter market.

MHI's last strategic plan identified datacenters as an "important megatrend" that warranted preparation for commercializing products. The new plan calls for the biz to "fully enter" the datacenter market.

That's recognition of the fact that availability of energy is widely seen as a limiting factor for the operation and expansion of hyperscale facilities, leading datacenter operators to increasingly provide their own power generation facilities rather than relying on the grid to keep kit humming.

MHI's approach is to build power plants designed for on-site power generation at datacenters – complete with its related cooling and energy management products.

In its strategy presentation, MHI referred to a launch of a 2.4MW electronically controlled engine for datacenters as a "business highlight" in a global market that is "rapidly expanding."

CEO Seihi Izumisawa told reporters that MHI will aim both to maintain and increase its lead across the gas turbine market.

Although MHI is eyeing up new uses for traditional turbines, it's not abandoning the industries that put it on the map – like aerospace or mega-scale power plants. Nor is it reducing its exploration of renewable energy.

Hydrogen was also identified in the last mid-term plan as a "future growth area" and MHI sees demand for hydrogen and ammonia combustion continuing to ramp up over the next few years.

It revealed that it has now validated using 100 percent hydrogen and ammonia in small gas turbines, while bigger machines will use them for half their fuel. By 2030, MHI reckons it can provide large turbines running only on hydrogen.

Hydrogen is typically produced by electrolysis – passing electricity through water. If the electricity used in that process comes from renewable sources, datacenter-adjacent generators would deliver solid sustainability credentials to their operators.

The Japanese corporation predicted a healthy revenue increase of 20 percent across the period FY23 to FY26, accompanied by 60 percent profit growth in the same period. ®

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