Hill International provided project pre-construction and construction management services for a $300 million electric generating station that uses innovative fuel cell technology developed by Bloom Energy to generate power. The project also included a natural gas regulating station, a well, a de-ionized water plant and water storage, a stormwater management system, and an administration and control building.
"Bloom boxes" use single or grouped solid-oxide, natural gas-powered fuel cells to generate energy for myriad projects. Each fuel cell, slightly larger than a postcard, generates 25 watts of power. When grouped together in “Bloom Boxes,” fuel cells can either solely provide or supplement electricity for a variety of uses.
Located four miles south of Delaware’s state capital, the 200,000-square-foot Red Lion Energy Center project includes a grouping of 130 Bloom Boxes, and was designed to be the highest-output fuel-cell power-generating facility in the world. Today, it is producing 23 megawatts of clean, reliable power for use by Delmarva Electric of Delaware.
The Red Lion Energy Center was Bloom Energy’s largest installation to-date, and was designed to be a highly publicized, highly visibly flagship site for the company. Challenges included a highly constrained project schedule, the need to define project deliverables and manage an existing team of design professionals, and the need to create trade-specific procurements that maximized local participation. Although the local power company had told Bloom that planning and engineering alone would take more than a year, the project was scheduled to be engineered, procured and constructed in nine months, demanding around-the-clock work to meet the aggressive schedule.
In addition, coordination and logistics of the project were highly complex. Internal and external stakeholders included the client’s manufacturing supply chain and internal manufacturing resources, its product delivery network, electrical and construction regulators, utility companies, local contractors and material vendors. Adding to the project’s complexity was the fact that the client’s manufacturing and engineering base was in Silicon Valley, California, while construction took place on the East Coast in New Castle, Delaware.
Because of the constrained project schedule, the entire team was required to work around the clock to meet the five-day allotted timeframe for connection to the substation. To help meet the deadline, significant economic incentives were tied to achieving commercial operation within that timeframe.
To meet the challenge of stakeholders’ disparate locations, Hill employed the use of multiple web-based management systems to effectively interface, and used web-based information sharing tools to catalog, store and share pertinent information during the bid, design and procurement phases. Web-based tools also were used for all bid package procurements, and to conduct collaborative schedule reviews among reviewers in various locations throughout the U.S. The CM staff also was provided with tablets to facilitate communication.
In addition, Hill developed an enhanced project schedule to keep the project on track and all stakeholders informed. This schedule integrated all known owner, supplier, designer and contractor issues, and helped to define critical actions items and guide performance.
“The people I worked with all had functional expertise and a can-do attitude that got us through a large number of setbacks and problems. They remained positive throughout, and we succeeded as a result. They represented us very well and have managed through a number of complex installation and commissioning issues along the way.
'It looks like we are going to send the escrowed earnings to our equity partner on Monday...over $20 million. This will be a big accomplishment. We are actually closing the project one quarter earlier than our original schedule.”