Splendid Isolation
Splendid Isolation

When the Hong Kong government built a 1,500-room quarantine centre on a barren corner of Lantau Island to prevent the spread of COVID-19, CLP Power rose to the challenge by connecting it to the grid to make it habitable in a matter of just weeks.

Extreme situations call for extreme solutions – particularly when the world is in the grip of a devastating pandemic and lives depends upon fast, decisive action.


So, when the Hong Kong government created a quarantine centre to stop the spread of the disease, CLP Power rose to the challenge and provided the technical expertise to make it possible in record time.


Built on a stretch of barren land on Lantau Island, the Penny’s Bay Quarantine Centre was connected to the power grid in around two months thanks to the extraordinary efforts of a team of dedicated CLP Power engineers.


The first two phases of the facility, providing a total of 1,500 quarantine units, were completed in July and September 2020, giving engineers a matter of just weeks in each case to provide a power supply to what had previously been undeveloped land without any power or basic infrastructure.


“I’ve been an engineer for more than 30 years, and I have never seen a major power supply project completed in such a short period of time,” says CLP Power engineer Wong Shu Tong with a sense of wonder. Click on the video to hear him speak about his project experience.

CLP Power engineer Wong Shu Tong and Head of Civil Engineering Office Ir Aaron Bok share their views on this project in the video.

Wong was responsible for building the electricity supply network and worked closely with another CLP Power engineer, Chan Ting Kwok, who was given the responsibility for network planning.


“This is the first time Hong Kong has built a quarantine centre of this size in such a short period of time,” explains Chan. “We had few points of reference to estimate the electricity load demand required for this purpose.”


The remote location made the task even more daunting. But despite the immense challenges, the CLP Power team succeeded in their mission before moving on to build the power supply for the third and fourth phases of the quarantine centre.


Reflecting on their achievement, Wong and Chan say there were three key elements that helped them succeed with what at first seemed like a Mission Impossible:

3 key elements to success
The team used an innovative mixture of indoor and outdoor substation styles to make construction faster. The white building is an indoor substation and the grey one an outdoor substation.

Flexible planning: The project team re-arranged the network design to minimise the scope of trench excavation and cable laying, reducing the time needed for providing the power supply to meet the tight schedule. 

Innovative solutions: The CLP Power engineering team came up with an innovative mix of indoor and outdoor substation styles for the project. The outdoor substation did not require concrete walls and ceiling, cutting the construction time by about 50% without in any way compromising safety or supply reliability.

Definitive approach: The team adopted a “first-take” approach – doing things right the first time without any margin for error to save time. Back-up arrangements and contingency plans were meticulously prepared before the start of the work. “We worked closely with government departments and tracked the progress of contractors closely to make sure tasks were completely as flawlessly as possible,” Wong explains. The CLP Power engineering team gave detailed onsite guidance to make sure work was done to the highest standards, and in one instance successfully corrected cable trench construction work on site before concreting was carried out, saving days of additional work.

Close coordination and communication
Close coordination and communication between CLP Power engineers, contractors, and government departments were central to the success and speed of the project.