Manjung Coal-Fired Power Plant, Malaysia

The Manjung coal-fired power plant in Malaysia is now producing up to 2,100MW from its three 700MW units. The plant is sited on a man-made island off the coast of Perek, making coal imports easier. The 700MW units were seen as more economical than four 500MW units, and were commissioned between September 2002 and September 2003. The project suffered some delay as a result of the 1997/8 Asian economic crisis.

The new plant is helping Malaysia to keep pace with its rapidly rising electricity demand. Demand is expected to reach 13,000MW by the end of 2005. If the 30% reserve margin is to be acheived, capacity needs to reach 16,505MW by the end of 2005. To meet this, a major programme of coal and gas power plant building is necessary.

Any delays in this building will lead to shortages and hence adverse effects on the total economy.

The government has allowed moderate investment in new capacity as a side effect of the economic turmoil, and has also urged electricity efficiency drives. The rate of electricity demand has approximately halved, but this did not affect the Manjung plant, as other projects were have been postponed in preference to it.


The island on which the site is located is off the coast of Lekir. The land was reclaimed between September 1997 and May 1999, which meant that ABB could start construction in July 1999.

A consortium formed by ABB Alstom Power Plants Ltd and Peremba Construction Sdn Bhd was selected as the engineering, procurement and construction (EPC) contractor for the project. ABB Alstom owns 75%, and the Malaysian Peremba owns the rest. Lekir Bulk Terminal Sdn Bhd (LBT) built a terminal to offload the six million tonnes of coal the plant should use each year. The jetty serves vessels of as much as 150,000t. The plant was built on 254ha of the 320ha of reclaimed land on the island. Of the 254ha, 70ha was for the power plant and 175ha for the ash pond. The rest was used for the terminal facilities. Leighton Asia designed and constructed the jetty, which was completed in September 2002. The estimated cost was RM310 million (€93 million).

ABB Alstom Power supplied the main equipment. This included the boilers, steam turbines and generators. Peremba was concerned with the erection, the civil works elements and the main electrical and I&C equipment. The plant’s transmission link to the Malaysian mainland was provided by ABB. Bachy Soletanche Malaysia designed an alternative construction for the pump house, as the original design proved too costly (the design was greatly complicated by the geology of the site).


The plant’s cost was eventually estimated at $1.8 billion, up from the original estimate of $1.3 billion. The main reason was the adverse change in the exchange rate. Roughly 30% of the cost came from equity financing.

The rest came from various forms of borrowing, including export credit. A major element in the deal was a $684 million loan from HSBC’s Midland Bank subsidiary. The HSBC loan was underwritten by the UK’s export credit guarantee agency. The French export credit insurer COFACE was also involved. Tenaga Nasional Bhd’s subsidiary, TNB Janamanjung Sdn Bhd, was originally the sole owner of the plant. In August 1999, the Perak state government announced it would take a 20% stake. TNB was happy to see this, as the company has a long-term strategy of reducing its power generation exposure to focus on transmission and distribution.


The plant uses low sulphur and low bitumen coal (pulverised for burning) to minimise pollution. The resulting ash is valuable for the cement industry, and most is caught by electrostatic precipitators. Dust control is also an important feature (the conveyor belt is covered and sprinkler systems remove up to 99.9%).

The plant has a waste water treatment facility to treat its effluent before it is released into the sea. The project even includes a plan to reinvigorate decayed mango swamps in the area. The plant will meet far higher emission standards than would be typical for an ASEAN country. It operates to particulate levels of 50mg/Nm³ whilst the expected ASEAN level is 400mg/Nm³. The plant uses low NOx burners and a flue gas desulpherisation facility to keep NOx and SOx emissions low.