Green for Green: More dollars for renewable power

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Hong Kong citizens are ready to pay more for renewable energy, but the city still has a long way to go in the development of green energy.

Nearly 60 percent of about 700 surveyed Hong Kongers said that they were open to pay at least an extra HKD20 a month – about 5 percent of their current monthly electricity payment – to support the local development of renewable energy, according to WWF Hong Kong.

The international environment group conducted a survey in the past two months where 721 local citizens shared their perspective on renewable energy. More than 10 percent of the respondents were willing to pay more than HKD100 for renewable energy; about 20 percent of them said an HKD10 to HKD20 is reasonable.

“The development of solar power in the community largely depends on local people’s acceptance [of the technology] and their willingness to participate,” said Olivia To, public engagement officer for climate at WWF-Hong Kong. “At the same time, companies and government should also provide support. For example, the government should deliver subsidies or set up seed funds to support community renewable energy.”

Statistics from Legco show that Hong Kong currently generates 48 percent of its energy from coal, 27 percent from natural gas, and the remaining from nuclear and renewable sources.

The Hong Kong government announced a plan last January suggesting that it would boost the percentage of the city’s renewable energy to between 3 percent and 4 percent of the city’s total power supply from the current 1 percent. In comparison, the figure was 17 percent in China in 2014 and 8.9 percent in the U.S., according to the World Bank.

The SAR government stated in Hong Kong’s Climate Action Plan 2030+ that the public sector would take the lead in applying renewable energy on a wider and larger scale in the immediate years ahead, and that consideration would be given to implementing a trial scheme as soon as practically possible in the public sector and participation of the private sector would be encouraged.

Chief Executive Carrie Lam highlighted the target at the launching ceremony of the Sustainable Development Solutions Network Hong Kong in January, that the government aims to achieve 65 percent to 70 percent reduction of carbon intensity by 2030, via means such as gradually replacing most of the coal-fired generation units with cleaner energy sources and encouraging development of renewable energy.

However, more than 60 percent of the respondents of WWF’s survey thought the government’s target is “insufficient” or “very insufficient”.

“Hong Kong must use more renewable energy if it wants to reduce carbon emissions. And solar energy has the most potential to be developed,” said To at WWF Hong Kong.

HK Electric, one of the city’s two power suppliers, has Lamma Winds and a solar power system, two renewable energy projects, connected to the grid.

CLP, the other power company in Hong Kong, has around 200 individual small-scale renewable energy producers connected to the grid. According to CLP, none of them are capable of producing surplus electricity for the public grid yet.

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