Project management for power plant construction in Korea



Currently, Korea has 50 million kilowatts of installed capacity. The capacity forecasted for new power plants that will be constructed in the future is about 37.44 million kilowatts of electricity to meet power demand and the total capacity of all the power plants in Korea is expected to reach 79 million kilowatts of electricity by 2015.

Power generation division of the state-run KEPCO (Korea Electric Power Corporation) was divided into seven companies on April 2, 2001, which was the first step to privatization. While the existing KEPCO is in charge of power transmission and distribution only, one hydro and nuclear power company and five thermal power companies were established to be in charge of power production as KEPCO's subsidiary companies. This paper describes Korea's typical project management regarding control and administration of in-vestments on power plant construction in a large scale.

History of Enhancing System for Power Plant Construction

In the 1960s, contracts for design, equipment, and construction were ordered respectively, obtained foreign funds, and managed by foreign companies. During this period, a project manager was appointed for the first time to be in charge of all the projects. The developed method of the construction project management was applied to Kunsan thermal power plant, 75 thousand kilowatts (2 units), in Korea, which was managed and administered by a foreign company.

From the 1990s up to the present time, the method of piece-meal order was carried out by KEPCO, which reflects the merit of a turnkey order based upon KEPCO's experience in construction management. This method involved separate design, equipment procurement and construction, wherein the design and the construction were performed by different contractors and material and equipment were procured from different suppliers. This method resulted in a number of advantages such as reduction of total project costs and project management personnel. Also, in a construction or installation standpoint, with a firm fixed contract price, which equates to 70% of the total price, it reduces the possibility of construction cost increases due to project uncertainties. It means that owner could minimize his degree of risk due to cost overruns.

Necessity of Project Management

In general, project management for power plant construction is set to have functions such as establishment of project basic plans to enable construction work to be performed properly in accordance with quality requirements within budget and schedule, preparation for project organization and management including control and adjustment of division of responsibility. Essentially, a large capacity power plant construction needs considerable amount of investment, along with a large manpower size throughout the whole construction period. Therefore, the division of responsibility during the basic plans stage, design stage, project execution and project closing has to be managed systematically and efficiently. To achieve this goal, the project manager (general manager of construction department) establishes and runs a construction management system to monitor, analyze, and evaluate project current status. The construction management system contains a procedure or computerized system that facilitate a more effective project management program in terms of schedule, cost, equipment material, drawing documentation, project numbering system and integrated reporting system, etc.

Project Management Basic Policy

Generation company (GENCO), which is an owner and client, is mainly in charge of project management framework. The general manager plays an important role as the chief of construction department at the head office. He is in charge of overall work of the project. Actual construction work is managed by the site manager. The related contractors establish and run their own project management system based on client's system.

The owner's primary work items at the head office are:

•  Establishment of construction basic plans and detailed action plans

•  Establishment of guidelines for project management

•  Procurement for architecture engineering, main equipment, balance of plant and construction, etc., and post-contract work

•  Setting up a computerized project management system on construction schedule, construction cost, equipment material, drawing, documentation and project numbering system, etc.

•  Obtaining government approval.

Exhibit 1. Schedule Control System

Schedule Control System

The owner's primary work items at the job site are:

•  Operation of project management system

•  Obtaining local government approval

•  Quality control for manufacture and erection

•  Construction control and supervision

•  Safety and environmental management

•  Start-up or commissioning

Related contractors’ work items are:

•  Establishment of project execution plan and implementation

•  Establishment of project management system and operation

•  Establishment of human resources, construction machinery mobilization and implementation

•  Reporting monthly project progress to the owner.

Standard Project Management Systems

Standard project management systems are being utilized for 500MW supercritical coal fired plants in Korea, which are as follows:

•  Schedule control systems including procedures, software programs and user's manuals

•  Cost control systems including procedures, software programs and user's manuals and cost database software programs

•  Material control systems including procedures, software programs and user's manuals

•  Document control systems including procedures, software programs and user's manuals

•  Project numbering system including procedures

•  Computerized system including construction management software

•  Integrated reporting systems including procedures, software programs and user's manuals.

Project Execution Process

Establishment of Construction Basic Plans for Power Projects

The Korean government prepares the basic plans for the stability of supply and demand of electricity in the country. Based upon the plans, the generation company selects the most feasible location for the new power plant, which is classified as the highest priority item among the suggested locations. Once this has been accomplished, construction basic plans are prepared by an expert from GENCO's construction department, and authorized by the board of directors to be launched as a project. The basic plans include: location, installed capacity, construction period, site settlement, yearly investment, financing, fuel supply and environmental conservation.

Establishment of Detailed Action Plans for Construction Project

Setting up of procurement method, contract award, construction permit from the government, and construction schedules. Milestone schedules usually include: site improvement, power building excavation, foundation concrete, structural steel erection, boiler pressure part start, power receiving, boiler hydrostatic test, initial firing, steam admission to turbine, initial synchronization and commercial operation.

Exhibit 2. Progress Rate Calculation

Progress Rate Calculation
Evaluation of Environmental Effects

When the construction plans of a power plant of more than 10,000 kilowatts is prepared, it is performed during the feasibility study stage to mitigate environmental effects during construction and operation periods. It also includes review of reducing effects to environment, gathering of residents’ opinion through public hearings, final evaluation report and conference with the Environmental Protection Agency.

A/E (Architectural Engineering)

During the basic design stage, GENCO makes a decision about the basic concept and design criteria, equipment types and capacity, along with the establishment of design margins or automatic control systems range, which is prepared by the architectural engineering contractor. During the detailed design stage, GENCO finalizes drawings and design documents based on optimization methods of the basic design concepts.

Contract for Equipment Purchase

Equipment purchase accounts for 30% of the total power plant construction cost. According to financial sources, procurement of equipment is classified as “domestic” and “foreign.” GENCO's head office in Seoul handles the procurement from foreign countries, as these material and equipment are imported from outside, which is more economical in terms of efficiency and effectiveness. In accordance with the conditions of the site arrangement and design criteria, technical specifications are prepared. General design conditions include: general description, power plant outline, site conditions, environmental design limits, utility resources, quality of industrial water and sea water.

Technical specifications contents include: division of responsibility for equipment supply, codes and standards, operating conditions, design and manufacturing characteristics.

Schedule Control Practice

Integrated project schedule control is the core of the project management system, which is identified in various fields such as design, procurement, construction, and commissioning. The objective of the schedule control is to ensure that the project is consistently on schedule to avoid cost overruns caused by delays.

Schedules are used to plan and depict practical, time-phased, hierarchical activities and events, which include activities, logical relationships, durations, resource requirements and constraints in order to maintain a key-milestone and limited time schedule with hierarchy such as project milestone schedule, summary schedule, construction control schedule and detailed schedule as shown in Exhibit 1.

Level 1, which is the highest level (project milestone schedule) depicts major events associated with engineering, procurement, construction and start-up during the entire project, which is also a project master schedule. Level 2 (EPCS Summary schedule) contains minimal logical relationship, which is utilized by prime contractors as the highest level schedule. Level 3 (Construction control schedule) is an integrated schedule utilizing the critical path method. Level 4 (Detailed schedule) is developed and controlled by major participating contractors based on the Level 3 schedule.

Level 1 consists of 50–60 line items that depict major milestones, invitation to bid, purchase order award and initial delivery. It facilitates a higher level of management to monitor and manage the whole project properly and typically contains work items as follows:

•  General: general arrangement, site improvement, coal yard, raw water supply facilities, access road, harbor facilities, ash storage area, community complex and service building

•  Boiler: foundation, structure, boiler and auxiliary system, piping and instrumentation and chimney

•  Turbine and Control: foundation, structure, base mat and turbine generator pedestal, turbine generator and auxiliary system, feed water system, condenser and accessories, condensate system, cooling water system, crane, piping and instrumentation

•  Auxiliary: ash handling system, electrostatic precipitator, water treatment system, coal handling system, fuel oil system, flue gas desulphurization system, waste water treatment system, compressed air system, auxiliary boiler and accessories, emergency generator system, fire protection system, HVAC, intake and discharge facilities and circulating water system structure

•  Electrical: electrical equipment, power transformer, gas insulated substation, switchgear, motor control center, UPS and DC system, tray and conduit, cable, other electrical facilities

•  I&C: control and computer facilities, balance of plant instrumentation and control.

Exhibit 3. Civil Construction Package Examples

Civil Construction Package Examples

Exhibit 4. Control Points Examples

Control Points Examples

Level 2—Engineering summary schedule is identified according to the design work process and contains 500 work items. Procurement summary schedule comprises equipment (boiler, turbine and BOP) illustrating the invitation to bid issue, award purchase order, receipt of vendor drawings, FOB date for offshore items and initial site delivery. Construction summary schedule is a time scaled network according to building and field such as civil, architecture, mechanical and electrical design.

Level 3 is a construction control schedule that represents detailed planning through the logic network and utilized by schedule controller on site to analyze the current performance status of the schedule. The schedule controller provides data needed for required government reporting and in-house reporting.

Examples of Progress Rate Calculation

The progress rate on project status reports is classified based upon managed area such as EPCS, which has weighted values of 20% for engineering, 30% for equipment procurement, 45% for construction and 5% for start-up. Criterion on value calculation based on the managed area is as follows:

•  Engineering and start-up man-hours

•  Equipment procurement cost

•  Contract price, erection constraints and loaded resources for construction.

For example, weighted value for construction area consists of 32% for civil work package, 19% for architecture, 38% for mechanical and electrical, and 11% for I&C which amounts to 100% as shown in Exhibit 2.

Regarding construction progress status reports, the progress rate is classified based upon the construction package as shown in Exhibit 3.

There are various methods in calculating the percent complete which are 0-100, level of effort, 50:50 and design quantity of material or control points, etc. Bulk material is managed on the basis of quantity, and individual material is handled through control points as shown in Exhibit 4. Status reports reflecting erection completion are commonly used to remunerate earned values on a monthly basis.


Through the Project Management for Power Plant Construction in Korea, Korea Western Power Co., Ltd. (WP) introduced the Korean project management system commonly used in power generation companies. WP also outlined the project execution process and explained the schedule control methodology applied to large capacity coal fired power plants. To privatize KEPCO's exclusive ownership, the corporation was divided into six small companies in 2001, as a result these groups became competition against each other, which in effect increased the efficiency and competitiveness. It is necessary for a utility company to cut down the total project cost, as it would also lower the generation cost. One of the ways to cut down the construction cost is to effectively utilize a project management system to meet the target schedule and to be within the target budget.

Proceedings of the Project Management Institute Annual Seminars & Symposium
October 3–10, 2002 • San Antonio, Texas, USA



Related Content

  • Project Management Journal

    Identifying Subjective Perspectives on Managing Underground Risks at Schiphol Airport member content locked

    By Biersteker, Erwin | van Marrewijk, Alfons | Koppenjan, Joop Drawing on Renn’s model and following a Q methodology, we identify four risk management approaches among asset managers and project managers working at the Dutch Schiphol Airport.

  • Project Management Journal

    Knowledge-Oriented Leadership, Team Cohesion, and Project Success member content locked

    By Mariam, Shahida | Khawaja, Kausar Fiaz | Qaisar, Muhammad Nawaz | Ahmad, Farooq We examined the impact of knowledge-oriented leadership on project success via team cohesion and the moderating role of valuing people and project complexity on this relationship.

  • Project Management Journal

    When Good Theories Backfire member content locked

    By Keil, Mark As project management scholars, we should not automatically assume that theories borrowed from other fields will produce desirable results when applied to the project management domain.

  • Project Management Journal

    Synchronous and Diachronic Timing member content locked

    By Nachbagauer, Andreas This article emphasizes event time to better understand that timing is not simply a given externality and points to the importance of enacting events and urgency.

  • Project Management Journal

    Vanguard Projects as Intermediation Spaces in Sustainability Transitions member content locked

    By Gasparro, Kate | Zerjav, Vedran | Konstantinou, Efrosyni | Casady, Carter B. In response to climate change issues, increasing numbers of vanguard projects are being established to help governments achieve sustainability goals through rapid technology development.