- Greater Bay Area cities are growing at high speed, and Hong Kong must develop too
- Yet it’s vital we do so in a sustainable way that meets our 2050 climate target
- New nuclear plants planned for Shenzhen can provide zero-carbon energy
- The way forward is clear, writes S.H. Chan, Legislative Councillor, in the essay below
THE SAR GOVERNMENT HAS earlier announced Hong Kong’s Climate Action Plan 2050, setting a target for the city to achieve carbon neutrality by 2050. Its commitment can also be seen from its plan to set up a Steering Committee on Climate Change and Carbon Neutrality to be chaired by the Chief Executive of the HKSAR government, and to allocate a “Climate Budget” of HK$240 billion to combat climate change over the next 15 to 20 years.
Realising the need to work together with different sectors to promote a low-carbon lifestyle, the government has also planned to establish a new office dedicated to strengthening coordination and promoting decarbonisation, as well as an advisory committee to encourage public participation, including young people.
All of these, in my view, set out the fundamentals for the intended outcome of the Climate Action Plan. However, this is easier said than done!
GROWING LIKE THE GBA
Hong Kong is now, and it should be, accelerating the development of the city to catch up with the pace of development of the cities surrounding us in the Greater Bay Area. We are about to kick-start several mega projects on infrastructure developments, including the new metropolis in northern area, the Lantau Tomorrow concept, as well as massive housing and transport schemes.
The challenge now lies in moving ahead with these infrastructure projects in a green, low carbon and sustainable way. It may be a useful reference that energy, transport and waste account for more than 90% of the total carbon emissions in Hong Kong. In view of this, the government is now actively pursuing three major strategies, namely, replacing conventional fossil energy with renewables and conserving energy, promoting green commuting, and finally, pursuing waste minimisation, waste recycling and waste-to-energy conversion.
I would suggest that the government has a more concrete plan to progressively replace fossil fuels by renewable energy, but it requires more cooperation on energy supply with the nearby cities such as Shenzhen. To achieve this, we need some synchronisation of energy policies as part of the bay area.
NUCLEAR POWER FOR ZERO CARBON ENERGY
In Hong Kong currently, electricity production is made up of natural gas (50%), nuclear (30%), coal (less than 20%), and a very small amount from solar.
Since 1994, we have been importing nuclear power from Daya Bay Nuclear Power Station located in Shenzhen, which constitutes 30% of electricity consumption in Hong Kong. Not only does nuclear power produce zero carbon, it is also reliable, and the cost is stable.
MORE PLANTS PLANNED
In the 14th Five-year plan of our country, there are many new nuclear projects ear-marked and several of them are in Shenzhen, where there is opportunity for Hong Kong to utilise nuclear energy from.
To address the general public’s concerns on the safety of nuclear energy, the third generation technology being deployed today has significantly improved the safety performance of nuclear reactors. However, more efforts need to be made on promoting public literacy of nuclear power and monitoring the safety operation of the nuclear power stations.
ZERO CARBON CHOICES
As for renewable energy, the government and the two power companies in Hong Kong are reviewing proposals to develop offshore wind farms. Thanks to technological advancement, lower cost and wider adoption of ethnic design of equipment for offshore wind projects, offshore wind farms have been made possible. The government estimated that by 2035, wind energy generated from offshore wind farms would be able to meet around 3.5% to 4% of Hong Kong’s electricity demand.
This also offers Hong Kong a combination of zero carbon energy choices to meet our needs and achieve the 2050 carbon neutrality goal. As technologies continue to improve, further adaptation of green and clean energy solutions is expected, which may include renewable energy onshore and offshore, hydrogen energy, nuclear energy and carbon capture facilities, etc.
KEY TARGETS FOR A LEGCO MEMBER
As a legislator, one of my major roles is to monitor the administration of the government to improve its governance capabilities and scrutinise the public budget to make sure value for money on public spending.
I aim to push for the establishment of a digital government and community to ensure a smooth transition of Hong Kong into a smart city. To achieve this, I will ride on my expertise to drive the accelerated development of green and smart infrastructure projects with innovative technological applications, such as BIM (Building Information Modeling), MIC (Modular Integrated Construction), AI and big data.
To help achieve Hong Kong’s Climate Action Plan 2050, I will also promote net-zero carbon energy application in electricity generation and usage, transportation and buildings management, and advocate energy-saving and smart application in the community.
Very importantly, I am keen to work with the government and the community to nurture the awareness of the younger generation in green and smart city, promote widespread knowledge in relevant industries, and build a talent pool to advance Hong Kong’s green economy.
About the author: The Honorable Chan Siu-hung (widely known as SH) has worked at CLP Holdings Ltd in Hong Kong for more than 40 years and is now the company’s Senior Adviser. He is one of the very few HKSAR Legco members focusing on energy, environment and climate change issues.