Ap Lei Chau Power Station

IDJ has kindly provided this brief history of Hong Kong Electric’s Ap Lei Chau Power Station, together with all of the images shown here which he has collected over the years.

IDJ says the book A Mountain of Light, The Story of the Hongkong Electric Company by Austin Coates, says very little about the Ap Lei Chau POwer Station apart from the statistics. i.e. it’s construction dates and number and sizes of the generating units is basically all I have used. It appears to have been published in 1977 so the power station would have been under construction when written.

HF: If you can add further information about this power station, or provide the sources and dates of the images shown here I would be delighted to hear from you.

IDJ :- In the 1950s, Hong Kong Electric Co’s primary power station was situated at North Point. However commercial and residential developments were increasingly encroaching on the site. Although great care was taken with smoke control from the chimneys, residential buildings were being constructed closer and closer to the power station as well as on the hillsides above and behind, presumably abetted by the government’s town planners. Further expansion of the generating facilities beyond the 1960s built North Point ‘C’ station was impossible.

Thermal power station’s need very large quantities of cooling water, so any new site needed to be on a coast. Due to the historical areas covered by the two power companies in Hong Kong, HK Electric was forced to look at the less developed south of the island or nearby southern offshore islands.

Ap Lei Chau Power Station Initial Construction Of The Buildings Courtesy IDJ

Ap Lei Chau Power Station initial construction of the buildings undated

The choice was narrowed down to Ap Lei Chau a barely settled island adjacent to the fishing port of Aberdeen. The western end of the island was entirely undeveloped and could provide suitable access to clean seawater for cooling purposes.

Ap Lei Chau Power Station Stage One 1969 From IDJ

Ap Lei Chau Power Station Stage One 1969

The site was acquired by HKE in 1964 and needed to be flattened which entailed a large amount of explosive blasting as the rock proved to be extremely tough.

Ap Lei Chau Power Station Stages 1&2 Courtesy IDJ

Ap Lei Chau Power Station Stages 1&2 undated

The power station was built in stages. The first two 60 mega-watt boiler/turbine generating units were of British, English Electric Company, manufacture, very similar to those at the North Point ’C’ station. These were commissioned in 1968 and 1969. The boilers were oil-fired, but unfortunately the 1970s oil crisis in the Middle East was looming.

Ap Lei Chau Power Station 1971 Courtesy IDJ

Ap Lei Chau Power Station 1971

With a greatly increasing demand for electricity in Hong Kong, the subsequent generating units installed at Ap Lei Chau were twice the generating capacity of the original two. These 125 megawatts generating units were of Japanese manufacture from Mitsubishi Industries. The first being commissioned in 1972 followed by others in 1973,1975 and 1976. As the power station expanded so did the bulk of the buildings and the number of chimneys, also the adjacent Shell fuel oil tank farm.

Ap Lei Chau Power Station Control Room Courtesy IDJ

Ap Lei Chau Power Station control room undated

Worldwide, the costs of burning fuel oil in power stations had become untenable, so any future generating capacity expansion had to be coal fired or nuclear. Both options required far larger sites than could be accommodated at Ap Lei Chau. With a change in direction of the business interests of new owners of the company, the Ap Lei Chau power station site was de-commissioned in 1989, demolished and redeveloped as the South Horizons residential estates. Little remains amongst the tower blocks that give any clues that a major power station once covered the area.

A virgin site on Lamma Island was selected for Hong Kong Electric Co’s future coal-fired electricity production.

Sources:

See: A Mountain of Light, The Story of the Hongkong Electric Company, Austin Coates, Heinemann, 1977

This article was first posted on 28th May 2019.

Related Indhhk article:

  1. The Hongkong Electric Company Ltd – Early History – 1889 to c1908
  2. The Hong Kong Electric Company – 1889 to the decommissioning of Ap Lei Chau Power station in 1989
  3. Francis Richard Marsh – General Manager of the Hong Kong Electric Company 1921-[1929]
  4. World War Two -1945 BAAG report on occupied Hong Kong – electricity
  5. Hong Kong Electric – pioneer of mechanised tunnelling in 1989
  6. Industrial districts – North Point – aerial image 1948
  7. HK Industry during and immediately after World War Two – Utilities
  8. Lamma Island Power Station – reasons for choice of location

HEC general history early HEC power stations

North Point

Lamma

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