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Published on MHI Graph (July 2011 Issue)

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New Plant to Enhance Future GTCC Business Expansion in North America

New Plant to Enhance Future GTCC Business Expansion in North America

Savannah Machinery Works Commences Full-Scale Production in North America, Where Market Demand for Industrial and Utility Gas Turbines is Rising.

The 470,000-square-meter site with manufacturing lines for gas turbine combustors and rotors, an assembly shop and a maintenance shop, capable of producing complete gas turbines.

Gaining Ground in the U.S. Market: Major Production Factory Enters Full Operation

In August 2013, a gas turbine rotor manufacturing line built by Mitsubishi Power Systems Americas in Savannah, Georgia became operational. The facility is named the Savannah Machinery Works. The 470,000-square-meter Savannah facility was built to establish a complete, full-scale gas turbine assembly and manufacturing plant in the U.S. Construction was previously completed for a manufacturing line for gas turbine combustors, a gas turbine assembly line, and a maintenance department. With the recently completed manufacturing area for rotors (Note1), the core component of gas turbines, the plant is now able to manufacture and assemble entire gas turbines as well as manufacture complete components, such as rotors and combustion chambers. Now, MHI can deliver more turbines to the North American market without the impact of foreign exchange fluctuations. In 2012, Savannah Machinery Works completed delivery of gas turbines to Dominion, a major energy company in the U.S. Rotors and other components were manufactured in Japan and shipped to the Savannah facility for assembly. With the new rotor manufacturing line commencing operations, the gas turbines ordered in 2013 by Portland General Electric (PGE) for their GTCC power generation system due to come online in 2016 will be manufactured entirely at Savannah Machinery Works.

  • 1A rotating component comprised of multiple ring-shaped parts. On the rotor manufacturing line, the rings are fitted with turbine blades and sent to the assembly line.
Production line
Manufacturing team

Production lines mirror those at MHI's main production base in Japan. Gas turbines are assembled at efficient assembly stations.

A Shift from Coal-Fired to GTCC Power Generation

Coal-fired thermal power plants, once America's mainstay of power generation, are being phased out due to age-related deterioration and stricter U.S. EPA (Environmental Protection Agency) regulations. Consequently, Gas Turbine Combined Cycle (GTCC) power generation is gaining attention as a new alternative power source. In addition to the power produced by the gas turbine, these high-efficiency combined cycle power generation systems use the high-temperature exhaust generated by the gas turbine to produce steam that drives the steam turbine, generating still more power. This method is very heat efficient and helps reduce the environmental load. There are other reasons why GTCC is an attractive alternative to coal. One is the U.S.' s large reserves of shale gas (Note2). Once difficult to obtain, extraction techniques such as hydraulic fracturing or "fracking" (Note3) have improved, and the volume of gas that can be extracted has increased dramatically. The increased supply has resulted in falling prices for natural gas, making it an energy resource that can be economically used in place of coal. Another reason is the U.S.'s ongoing introduction of renewable energy. Wind power generation and photovoltaic module power generation are influenced by the weather and natural environment, resulting in an inconsistent output. GTCC is a way to stabilize the electrical grid, enabling consistent output that negates the influence of the fluctuating renewable power generating sources. GTCC has great potential in North America. If further growth and development materialize, the market for gas turbines will also expand. Savannah Machinery Works was built to meet this market expansion, and now includes advanced production lines similar to those at MHI's main gas turbine production facility in Japan. Using a tested proven line facilitates efficient manufacturing. In the event of problems, there is already a support system from Japan prepared to assist, enabling efficient resolution of problems. Production capacity is now on track for 12 units per year. In the future, the Savannah Machinery Works will be a core base from which to compete in the North American gas turbine market.

  • 2Natural gas trapped within shale formations.
  • 3 An excavation process where large amounts of water, sand and chemicals are pumped into a stratum where petroleum and gas exist. The pressurize mixture cracks the rock layer to create fissures which are filled with sand particles, creating passageways for use in extracting the gas.
Gas turbine
Gas turbine

Dual Manufacturing Structure of Japan and U.S. Aims for over 30 percent of the Global Market Share

Since 2010, MHI has been working to create a global production system with the goal of acquiring over 30 percent of the worldwide gas turbine market. The Savannah Machinery Works rotor manufacturing line is an integral part of this plan. Its completion means that gas turbines can now be manufactured locally, creating a two-pronged Japan-U.S. production base system. When Japan's manufacturing plants are added to the equation, MHI's gas turbine production capacity is anticipated to reach approximately 50 turbines per year. MHI currently boasts the third largest global market share for gas turbines over 170,000 kilowatt. The ratio expanded to 16 percent in 2010 and to 20 percent in 2011. The expansion in production capacity brought about by having production bases in Japan and the U.S. will undoubtedly be a primary factor in realizing a global share of over 30 percent. With these efforts as a foundation, MHI plans to continue pursuing orders from the expanding North American market, from Brazil and other Latin American countries - where development of offshore oil fields is expected to contribute to the GTCC market - and from Asia, where steady economic growth continues.


Sam Suttle

Remaining a State-of-the-Art Manufacturing Facility

The gas turbine rotor manufacturing line began initial operations in August 2013. When it reaches full production, the facility will be capable of manufacturing both large gas and steam turbines. The machine tools and processes within the plant, including the rotor manufacturing line, are truly state-of-the-art. This is a significant reason for our excellent reputation in the U.S. market. It is an impressive sight for customers who tour our facility. Dominion had some concerns about their gas turbines being the first units manufactured in Savannah, nevertheless, they praised the dedicated effort and quality that went into the manufacturing process, equating it with the same approach to work as MHI's production base in Japan. That praise was the result of all employees working hard to meet Dominion's expectations. It gave the entire team great self-confidence and a sense of achievement and represents a significant milestone for MHI. The goal of Savannah Machinery Works is to remain a state-of-the-art facility with excellent manufacturing capabilities. As General Manager, my mission is to make Savannah Machinery Works the premier manufacturing facility in the U.S. market and beyond.

Sam Suttle
Mitsubishi Power Systems Americas, Inc.
General Manager,
Savannah Machinery Works