Spoiler Alert! Technology Alone Isn’t Enough


Developing new technologies is absolutely fundamental to reaching global decarbonization goals. We need innovation to future-proof today’s energy systems and to find the best technologies that will enable a clean, affordable, accessible and reliable transition to net zero.

However, developing technology alone won’t get us there. The key to shared success is the strength of combining technology at scale that can quickly go to market (or already is in market and can be reapplied for new uses) with new ways of collaborating between public and private organizations, incentives to bring these projects to bear, bigger thinking about innovative policies and a focus on creating real-world opportunities to test and validate solutions before they’re put to use.

As decarbonization means different things to different sectors, low-carbon solutions need to be tailored to adapt to the needs of particular users. These technologies include clean hydrogen and derivatives, short and long-duration energy storage, and carbon capture applications. They will only contribute to speeding up the energy transition if they are scaled and become commercially viable.

Three elements lie at the heart of reaching scale and commercialization: rigorous validation, incentives and re-applying proven technology.


Undeniably, all new technologies go through validation processes, but to truly have confidence in new solutions, rigorous validation and real-world testing must take place. Confidence in an emerging technology is critical for adoption and, ultimately, scaling and commercialization.

Validation and testing are built into the DNA of Mitsubishi Power as an organization. It has, for example, built its own advanced-class gas turbine demonstration plant at T-Point 2 in Takasago, Japan, a grid-connected facility where new machines undergo at least 8,000 hours of validation, equivalent to nearly one year of normal operations. This state-of-the-art plant creates real-world operating conditions that demonstrate to potential customers how the company’s high-efficiency turbines lower fuel consumption and carbon emissions and how they generate stable electricity. The facility is also hydrogen-ready to further enable the integration of renewable electricity into the energy system. “Validation testing helps reduce risks and accelerate the decarbonization of the power sector,” says Kai Guo, Vice President of Hydrogen Infrastructure Development at Mitsubishi Power Americas.

Kai Guo, Vice President of Hydrogen Infrastructure Development at Mitsubishi Power Americas.
Kai Guo, Vice President of Hydrogen Infrastructure Development at Mitsubishi Power Americas.


Keeping control of the costs of developing new technologies and adapting existing infrastructure is a key part of ensuring commercialization, Guo says. If new clean energy projects were eye-wateringly expensive to build, nobody would choose to do so, even if they help on the road to net zero.

This is where policy alignment, governmental incentives and public-private partnerships play a crucial role, Guo says. Pioneering technologies that are proven to fulfill a global aim, such as reducing carbon emissions, need early-stage support from governmental institutions. Similar to the beginnings of wind and solar power technologies, it’s governmental incentives alongside early-stage investors such as venture capital and private equity that will boost the uptake of other cleantech.

In the U.S., for example, last year’s implementation of the Inflation Reduction Act (IRA) has kickstarted an unprecedented wave tide of cleantech investments. Goldman Sachs estimates that the program will spur about $3 trillion in renewable energy technology spending, including investments in energy storage, clean hydrogen and carbon capture solutions.

"The IRA is an important first step in addressing the cost to produce clean energy. IRA tax credits are directly addressing the issue of affordability, as well as supporting the development of new technologies, which is important when we're talking about hydrogen and carbon capture."-says Guo.

Re-applying proven technology more creatively

The transition to net zero also has much to gain from existing energy infrastructure. The building blocks for developing groundbreaking technologies have been laid decades ago. Today’s net-zero challenge requires engineers, business leaders and policymakers to jointly apply creative thinking to evolving and scaling existing technologies, not only because it can save substantial costs, Guo says. Proven engineering needs new applications.

Mitsubishi Power’s parent company, Mitsubishi Heavy Industries, has, for example, invested in Monolith, a leader in methane pyrolysis. Monolith uses 100% renewable electricity to convert natural gas or renewable biogas into hydrogen and carbon black. Since a typical consumer tire comprises up to 20 percent carbon black by weight, this manufacturing process could potentially reduce tire life cycle emissions, Guo says. Monolith’s efforts are expected to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by as much as 1 million metric tons per year compared to traditional manufacturing processes.

 Mitsubishi Power has also developed a hydrogen-firing technology that allows power plant owners to convert existing gas turbines to run on clean hydrogen. In partnership with Georgia Power, the company demonstrated successful hydrogen and natural gas fuel blending on an M501G natural gas turbine at Plant McDonough-Atkinson in Smyrna, Georgia. “Hydrogen validation at Plant McDonough-Atkinson demonstrates how we can leverage existing assets to make progress toward long-term green energy goals,” Guo says.

Technology-plus approach

And a joint venture between Mitsubishi Power Americas and formerly Magnum Development, now a Chevron U.S.A. Inc. company, through its New Energies Company, the Advanced Clean Energy Storage Hub (ACES Delta Hub) is the first at-scale clean hydrogen hub – as well as one of the largest clean hydrogen hubs globally to reach financial close and is scheduled to begin operations in 2025, Guo says.

Developing new low-carbon and green energy technologies is vital to finding solutions on the way to net zero, but we need pioneering ideas to go hand in hand with existing solutions, the right validation processes and effective incentives to keep control of costs.

The energy industry is in a unique position to demonstrate how creative thinking around merging new and existing technologies can make a huge difference in the quest to decarbonize industrial processes.