National Power in Malaysian gas venture

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IN THE midst of the furore over its dash for gas at home, National Power quietly announced yesterday that it will invest up to dollars 20m in two gas-fired power generation plants in Malaysia.

The plants, with a total capacity of 1,500 megawatts, will be the first privately owned generating stations in Malaysia and are being built in partnership with YTL Corp, a large construction firm.

National Power recently said that it would invest pounds 1bn by the end of the decade in building its presence overseas. It already has plans for joint-venture power projects in Pakistan.

John Baker, chief executive, said the project with YTL would benefit from dramatically soaring electricity demand in peninsular Malaysia.

Despite being one of the first steps in a global expansion plan, the Malaysian deal was given only a muted fanfare. This was hardly surprising as the generator attempted to maintain a low profile over the latest developments in Britain's coal debacle.

Although National Power plays a key role in the future for British Coal, is has so far refused to comment on the Government's pit closure plans.

National Power is British Coal's single largest customer but also has plans to build generation capacity using combined-cycle gas-turbine technology and to import more coal.

The trend towards CCGTs is being blamed for the demise of the coal market.

About 6,000 megawatts of independently run gas-fired stations could be running by 1995, while a further 4,000 megawatts or more, built by National Power and PowerGen, could also be in operation by then.