£100m faults on Siemens turbines

Siemens faces a bill of more than £100m over problems that have arisen with its latest gas turbines at two British power stations. The faults on the large V94.3 and V94.3A units will delay the final commissioning of National Power’s 1,360MW plant at Didcot in Oxfordshire and Eastern Generation’s 340MW unit at King’s Lynn in […]

Siemens faces a bill of more than £100m over problems that have arisen with its latest gas turbines at two British power stations.

The faults on the large V94.3 and V94.3A units will delay the final commissioning of National Power’s 1,360MW plant at Didcot in Oxfordshire and Eastern Generation’s 340MW unit at King’s Lynn in Norfolk by several months. The German manufacturer will be liable for all the associated costs.

Both plants should have undergone final commissioning this summer, but a Siemens spokesman admitted that this would not now be achieved.

‘We hope to start all the engines in the autumn or by the end of the year,’ he said.

It was too early to calculate how much the delays would cost Siemens, which has turnkey contracts for both projects, but similar hold-ups on two other gas-fired power projects last year are understood to have cost the contractors involved about £50m each.

The thermal coatings on the turbine blades have proved inadequate at both stations.

Richard Rigg, Eastern’s development manager in the UK, said the failure of the V94.3 unit coating to adhere properly had caused the blades to crack when the station started operation in the early part of the summer.

The problem had been identified ahead of start-up, and the blades were subject to regular inspection.

Rigg said that the station had been shut down in July to allow replacement blades to be installed and should be back in operation by the end of September.

He said the plant would remain Siemens’ responsibility in the meantime. ‘We’re not prepared to take it over until the problem is solved,’ he said.

While the main problems on the more advanced V94.3A units installed at Didcot have also been associated with the turbine blades’ coating and cooling, their novel ring-burner combustion chambers have also sustained damage to their cooling air pipes.

A source at National Power said there was likely to be several months’ delay in commissioning the plant, which had been due to go on stream this summer.

Siemens said the problems were attributable to ‘standard mechanical engineering’. This suggests some sort of failure at the manufacturing stage rather than a fundamental shortcoming in design, like that which caused widespread problems last year on power stations fitted with General Electric’s 9F-series of large gas turbines.