POWER UTILITY | Staff Reporter, Singapore

Meet the man behind Singapore's 800MW LNG plant

PacificLight’s CEO Yu Tat Ming shares how his company maintains and innovates Singapore’s first LNG-fired power plant.

Singapore-based power generator and electricity retailer PacificLight takes pride in starting up the first power plant in the country to be fired entirely by liquefied natural gas. The 800MW facility, located on Jurong Island, powers over 1,000,000 Singapore households. Asian Power spoke to PacificLight’s CEO Yu Tat Ming to discuss his upcoming plans for the power plant that provides an estimated 9% of Singapore’s total electricity needs. Yu was appointed the company CEO way back in September 2009 and has since been directing the company for eight years now.

What were the previous positions you held that led you to being the CEO now? How did these experiences help you be the leader that you are?

Prior to joining PacificLight, I worked with Senoko Power Ltd for 20 years in various positions, including Vice President, Asset Management – a role in which I oversaw capital project development as well as the operation and maintenance of the Senoko Power Station. While at Senoko I was also responsible for the construction of five generating units as well as a major repowering project.

I have also worked for CLP Holdings Limited, which is one of the largest investor-owned power businesses in Asia Pacific. During my time at CLP, I worked as station manager for the company’s largest coal-fired power station.

What are your top three priorities for PacificLight?

We have to create a future-oriented economy, powered by clean energy and green technology. Hence, our focuses are:

1)Efficiency – we constantly strive to improve our infrastructure and boost the efficiency of our power plant, some through adoption of new ideas and equipment, and some just through conscious efforts to reduce wastage. Our plant efficiency is markedly higher than what was achieved at the time we took over the plant from the manufacturer in 2014. Maximising efficiency allows us to produce electricity with the least emissions and at more competitive prices so that consumers can benefit from both a better environment and affordable electricity. 

2)Safety – safety is a culture; safety means increased productivity. Our emphasis on safety led to PacificLight being awarded the globally-recognised certification, BS OHSAS 18001:2007, as well as the Singapore Standard (SS) 506 Part 1:2009 certification by the Singapore Accreditation Council. 

3)Reliability – having a reliable and stable plant is critical to our plant’s operation. This involves proactive inspections on a preventive as well as a predictive basis. Data analytics play an increasingly important part in our maintenance efforts as we are able to spot failure patterns through critical analysis of failure history of equipment. By playing close attention to plant data we have maintained an extremely high plant reliability factor, which is critical to the success of any commercial power plant

What are the biggest challenges PacificLight is currently facing in generation and how do you plan to overcome these? 

Disruptive technology and disruptive business models pose a constant threat to all businesses, including PacificLight. Not only do we have to adopt the latest technology, we also need to constantly review our business processes. We should be brave to adopt out-of-the-box business ideas in order to stay ahead of competition.

The liberalisation of Singapore’s electricity market in 2018 will see a broadening of the market base with an additional 1.3 million household customers given the choice of their electricity retailer. Coupled with a plethora of new electricity retailers, this development presents both a threat and an opportunity. PacificLight is investing in new systems to ensure that we are able to distinguish ourselves in the market and deliver innovative products and services beyond the mere sale of electricity to customers.

What is PacificLight’s biggest plan to date?

Singapore is currently brimming with generation capacity, hence our focus is to position ourselves well for the recovery of the market by ensuring that our 800MW plant continues to set the industry benchmark in efficiency and availability, and by fostering close collaboration with business partners beyond the traditional business dealings that leverage each other’s strength. 

We have implemented a number of initiatives that have established our plant as a benchmark for other plants in terms of both efficiency and availability. These measures included improving the hydrogen purity of the generator, the installation of a variable speed drive for the feedwater pumps and implementation of a gas compressor bypass. We have worked closely with Siemens, our OEM such that we have extended the interval between major overhaul of the gas turbine.

We have been focusing on projects that increase the plant’s efficiency and reduce our carbon footprint. One key project has resulted in a sizable reduction of 2x850 kW auxiliary power consumption of our feedwater pumps, thereby improving the net generation output and efficiency of each unit. The project was completed last year.
In August 2016, we also implemented a water recovery system that cuts our water consumption by more than half. The accumulative impact of these projects as well as constantly looking to improve our business processes and systems has had a significant impact on our plant efficiency and reliability.

What do you think is Singapore’s biggest energy problem at the moment and how should this be addressed? 

The biggest energy challenge facing the world, not just Singapore, is climate change. It is a challenge that demands collective action. As part of international efforts, Singapore has committed to reducing its emissions intensity by 36 per cent from 2005 levels by 2030, and stabilise emissions with the aim of peaking around 2030.
The formation of a Singapore Chapter of World Energy Council in November 2016, of which PacificLight is one of 6 founding members, allows Singapore to draw on the wealth of research and international best practices that WEC provides to its members from almost 100 countries around the globe. 

At a corporate level, sustainability forms one of PacificLight five core values and we believe that every individual and business needs to play a part in building a more energy-efficient world. PacificLight operates Singapore’s first power station fired by LNG, the cleanest fossil fuel, using CCGT, a form of highly efficient energy generation technology. We are the first retailer to lead a solar adoption initiative that allows consumers to choose solar-generated electricity. Beyond electricity, PacificLight also offers energy efficiency audits and demand aggregation schemes

Singapore is currently working on a next-generation grid system called Grid 2.0. How do you think will this help you as a utility?

Grid 2.0 will integrate initiatives like smart metering, energy efficiency and demand-side management along with an expected increase in solar generation. These areas are very much in line with what PacificLight has been, and will continue to embrace as the industry evolves.  

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