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Paka Power Station comes on line in record time

Paka Power Station comes on line in record time

Standardized design may be the beginning of a new era in plant construction, with modular pieces snapping into place at accelerating rates

By Ann Chambers, Assistant Editor

Paka Power Station in rural Malaysia entered simple-cycle service, then combined-cycle operation, in record-breaking time, as determined contract staff, manufacturing facilities and local authorities closely coordinated their efforts in an all-out drive for speed. The plant first generated electricity only 10 months after groundbreaking. This was accomplished despite the local weather that alternatively steamed and drowned the works and plans of all involved.

This 808-MW gas-fueled facility may be one of the first of a new breed of power plants. It has a modular, repeatable design, which will allow the plant to be replicated at other sites just as quickly. The plant is made of two 404-MW blocks, so it can be built in increments from that block. Pasir Gudang power station in Malaysia is a 404-MW plant built from the exact same design, also in record time. According to a Siemens spokesman, the company has orders for 14 such power plants in Asia alone.

"It`s a new market and a new client," said Gunter L. Buchholz, Siemens AG senior site manager. "Traditional clients influenced designs with their expertise and experience. In developing countries and markets, new groups, such as IPPs, have different demands. They see power production mainly as an investment." He said demands for the Paka project included designing the facility to cost, high reliability, low maintenance, short construction time, and proven designs and equipment.

Paka power plant has two blocks, each equipped with two Model V94.2 gas turbine-generators and one steam turbine-generator, with a combined capacity of 808 MW. The Pasir Gudang plant uses the same technology and design as Paka except that it only has one block of 404 MW (Table 1). Both Paka and Pasir Gudang plants are controlled with Siemens` Teleperm XP, a state-of-the-art instrument and control monitoring system.

"The original schedule for Paka was 24 months, which was a bid record for Siemens and a big challenge, especially when factoring in the weather," Buchholz said. Siemens and YTL coordinated both Paka and Pasir Gudang projects from their Kuala Lumpur offices.

Kuala Lumpur, the capital of Malaysia, is a booming metropolis full of a mixture of old-world and modern buildings with plenty of tropical greenery scattered throughout. The cost of living and doing business is significantly less than nearby Singapore, an attractive feature that is drawing a variety of multinational companies into town. The Twin-Towers, nearing completion, will briefly hold the title of tallest building in the world, eclipsing Chicago`s Sears Tower. Another building, under way on mainland China is expected to surpass Kuala Lumpur`s towers when it is completed.

Norman D. Fulton, YTL Power Genera-tion project manager, said the political climate in Asia is "very favorable" for a fast schedule. Local firms and governmental entities all cooperated and worked to meet the needs of the fast schedule. "We were often able to go for an approval and walk away with it. Also, customs clearances. We didn`t have to wait for anything," Fulton said. He attributes the record-breaking speed of the construction to adherence to the "Four Ms"--Manpower (good people with the necessary know-how), Machinery (must be excellent quality), Methods and Materials.

The National Electricity Board of Malaysia was privatized in 1990, becoming Tenaga Nasional Berhad, and simultaneously paving the way for independent power producers (IPP) to enter the generation and supply sides of the energy market. The first IPP to be granted a license was YTL Power Generation Sdn Bhd, a subsidiary of YTL Corporation Berhad. YTL owns and operates both Paka and Pasir Gudang stations, for a total of 1,212 MW, approximately 15 percent of the country`s power.

Construction of both plants began in November 1993, and the first generating units at both locations were commissioned and synchronized with the national grid in September 1994. Construction was completed in only 22 months. Total cost for both Paka and Pasir Gudang was approximately (US)$1 billion, with about two-thirds going to Paka and the remainder for Pasir Gudang.

Fuel intake is governed by a gas supply agreement with Petronas, and supply of generated power falls under a power purchase agreement with Tenaga Nasional Berhad, coordinated through the TNB National Load Dispatch Center. The PPA calls for a fixed 21-year operation period, without an escalation clause. The PPA is different from those of the other four licensed IPPs in Malaysia in that the amount of electricity to be delivered is fixed for monthly and quarterly periods, whereas the other IPPs are paid on a fee basis and the operation conditions are determined by Tenaga.

Both Siemens and YTL are pleased with the facility`s reliability to date, although the plant had several scheduled outages in its first year, as construction continued from the simple-cycle start date to final combined-cycle generation (Table 2).

Buchholz credits a variety of contributing factors to the speed and cost-efficiency of the facility construction, including:

- early award of subcontracts,

- strict project control and management,

- tough expediting, both in Germany and overseas,

- early order of the main components (gas turbines, steam turbines, transformers),

- no major design modifications by client or consultant,

- high engagement of all parties,

- working seven days a week, and working long hours,

- very efficient civil contractor,

- use of air freight when possible (large components came by ship),

- short approval time by client/consultant, and gas turbines are operated only by natural gas.

The Siemens staff members in Malaysia refer to Paka as "paradise," taking the heat and the monsoon season in stride and saying they are a small price to pay for living in such a beautiful place. Paka, a quiet, sea-side village on the eastern edge of the country, is just down the road from some of the oldest rainforest in the world, and the power plant itself rests within easy view of the sea and distant hazy mountains rising from the warm waters.

The weather did create problems during construction however, as parts coming in by ship had to be "hidden" from the tempestuous sea in a nearby harbor, delaying their delivery. The weather also lashed out at water pipes being constructed in the edge of the sea, and machinery had to be moved, delaying the work while the almost-completed pipes filled with sand and silt, further delaying the project.

The weather also created high turnover in outdoor jobs. YTL, the civil works contractor, started the project with a roster of 160 workers. By the end of the five to six months of civil construction, only 10 of the original 160 remained on the payroll. But local workers presented a strong asset for the project, according to both Siemens and YTL staff.

"We bring in quality products and systems and more systematic work methods. The local people are smart and can do the work," said Jorgen O. Haslestad, Siemens Power Generation managing director. "Regional offices make it easy to maximize local suppliers because you`re familiar with them and used to dealing with them."

Regional offices are becoming more necessary, as utilities and IPPs demand on-site assistance, both during and after construction. Siemens established its Kuala Lumpur office in early 1994, by founding Siemens Power Generation Asia Pacific Sdn. Bhd., an engineering and marketing company. Approximately 100 staff members handle projects for the Asia-Pacific region, plus Australia.

Citing criteria for local office site selection, Haslestad noted:

- political stability,

- location and accessibility,

- currency,

- economic stability,

- wages,

- development of the country,

- market potential,

- primary energy resources,

- engineering resources,

- standard of education, and

- ethnic stability.

"We`re here for long-term development," said Haslestad. "Even if we`re not on their doorsteps, we`re very close--only two or three hours away, and in the same time zone. The only way to increase the market share is to be there." Regional offices for China and the countries of the former Soviet Union, dubbed the Newly Independent States, are planned.

Local employees and expatriates work together while transferring the technology. The engineering department of the Kuala Lumpur office has approximately 70-percent local staff with 30-percent expatriate staff. Within five years, that percentage should shift to 90-percent local engineering staff. "It`s hard and also expensive. It doesn`t improve results immediately, but it does at the five and 10 year marks," Haslestad said.

The developing nations in and around Asia are demanding new answers to their growing power needs, and suppliers and manufacturers are scrambling to fabricate satisfactory ones. The IPPs and utilities that need the electricity want their facilities built faster, better and with plenty of local input and labor. And with the economics of supply and demand, they are increasingly getting just what they want, as established, worldwide firms that are happy for the business put their impressive stockhold of technology and know-how into the mission.

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The 808-MW Paka Power Station recently started operating as a combined-cycle facility in rural Malaysia.

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Paka Power Station has two generating blocks and Pasir Gudang has one. This table highlights the technical details of one block. Each of the identical blocks has two gas turbine generators, two boilers and one steam turbine generator.

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Paka Power Station`s availability record for its first year in service, as calculated by its operations and maintenance firm, YTL Power Services.

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The steam turbine section of the plant, including the associated generators.

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On the right side of this view of the Kuala Lumpur skyline are the Twin Towers, one of which will be the tallest building in the world, if only for about one year. There is a building under construction in China that will exceed its height.

Click here to enlarge image

The fish and vegetable market in Paka.

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