The SmartER M501GAC is an integration of Mitsubishi Power’s reliable G-Series turbine technology, which has amassed 5.7 million operating hours, and its TOMONI™ digital solutions that provide world-class analytics and artificial intelligence. | Photo courtesy Mitsubishi Power

El Paso Electric selects Mitsubishi Power for New Gas Turbine; Will replace three units 60+ years old

This week, El Paso Electric (EPE) announced the selection of Mitsubishi Power’s 228 megawatt (MW) SmartER M501GAC enhanced-response (SmartER) gas turbine.

According to EPE officials, the selection of Mitsubishi Power’s turbine is part of  the utility’s “long-term energy supply resource plan to make its power generation cleaner and more sustainable.”

“This gas turbine will enable EPE to triple its renewable energy portfolio and reduce carbon emission,” EPE officials shared via a news release. “The SmartER M501GAC complements renewable energy sources by starting up and shutting down rapidly to respond to customer energy usage and renewable energy variability. ”

Utility officials say that the new the gas turbine will replace three units EPE has deemed “less efficient and less reliable” after more than 60 years in operation. In addition, the gas turbine is hydrogen ready for future deep decarbonization.

“With New Mexico legislation moving toward 100 percent carbon-free emissions by 2045, EPE joins a growing list of utilities creating future economic value for their customers with Mitsubishi Power’s decarbonization solutions,” officials added.

“To help achieve our bold vision of reducing our carbon footprint 40 percent below 2015 levels by 2035, we sought a partner that could deliver a gas turbine with flexible and reliable power to complement renewables, as well as deep industry expertise in renewable integration,” said Steve Buraczyk, Senior Vice President of Operations at El Paso Electric.

“Mitsubishi Power delivers both. The G-Series advanced class gas turbines offer flexibility and a proven record. Those features combined with Mitsubishi Power’s extensive experience as a systems integrator and its advanced hydrogen-capable gas turbine design made Mitsubishi Power’s solution our top choice.”

Beyond the new generator, EPE is adding 200 MW of large-scale solar power and 50 MW of battery storage at the same time and is counting on the gas turbine’s rapid dispatch capability to respond to the intermittency of these renewables.

“The gas turbine’s quick startup and fast ramp rate will ensure grid stability and enable EPE to maximize power generation,” officials share. “The gas turbine combined with the renewable resources is expected to save 600 million gallons per year of water, which is a precious resource in EPE’s arid region.”

Mitsubishi Power says that the gas turbine is capable of operating on natural gas, or on a mixture of natural gas and up to 30 percent hydrogen for further decarbonization. The gas turbine can be configured in the future to operate on up to 100 percent hydrogen for zero-carbon emissions.

“Like many of our customers throughout the United States, EPE is replacing carbon-intensive assets with a combination of renewables, storage and natural gas power generation to meet the growing demand for cleaner affordable and reliable electricity,” Paul Browning, President and CEO of Mitsubishi Power Americas said.

“Our gas turbine will enable EPE’s current decarbonization plan, integrating seamlessly with the utility’s renewable energy sources. In addition, its green hydrogen compatibility provides a path toward zero-carbon emissions in the future. We are enabling EPE to achieve a Change in Power.”

EPE and Mitsubishi Power are exploring a joint development agreement in the coming months to create a green hydrogen infrastructure roadmap.