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Power giant seeks edge in clean tech

NEW YORK — A power technology conglomerate, known mostly for traditional energy sources like natural gas, has launched a new company to provide solar electricity and battery storage.

Why it matters: The announcement from Mitsubishi Hitachi Power Systems Americas shows how the world’s biggest energy and technology companies are adapting to a world, or at least many parts of it, that is demanding cleaner energy sources.

Driving the news: The new company announced Monday, called Oriden, is a project development firm under the umbrella of Mitsubishi. The name is a play on the English word “origin” and the Japanese word “denki” (電気) meaning ‘electricity’ (Mitsubishi is a Japanese company).

“We offer nuclear, we offer coal, we offer hydro, we offer offshore wind, we offer natural gas. We want to be able to offer our customers whatever they want to buy. And we’re strong believers that the future here in the United States is a combination of natural gas, renewables and storage.”
— Paul Browning, CEO and president, Mitsubishi Hitachi Power Systems Americas

One level deeper: The company made the announcement at the Bloomberg New Energy Finance conference. Browning, in an interview with Axios, said the decision was partly in response to some state moves away from natural gas, including California and Arizona.

  • “We have to be thinking about what’s next,” said Browning, adding that hydrogen as a form of storage is also something the company is pursuing.

The intrigue: Browning was on a panel earlier on Tuesday discussing to what degree renewables plus storage can compete against natural gas. His apparent role on the panel was to offer the natural gas perspective. At the end of the panel he said: “May the best technology win.”

Be smart: With its investments, Mitsubishi is trying to have a stake in nearly all technologies, so it doesn’t matter to the company which ones win.

Editor's note: This piece was clarified to show the announcement of the new company was made on Monday.