Prime culprits smoke away on both sides of the border, ignoring a solution
Two of the region's big air polluters are located 50km apart, emitting at least 140,000 tonnes of sulfur dioxide last year.
The Shajiao Power Plant is situated in Humen, Dongguan, northwest of Hong Kong. It is the province's biggest coal-fired generation plant, supplying electricity to thousands of factories and millions of residents.
Last year the 4,000MW plant emitted about 90,000 tonnes of sulfur dioxide (SO2), or approximately 9 per cent of the 1 million tonnes produced in the province.
The amount is 80 per cent higher than that from CLP Power's coal-fired Castle Peak and gas-driven Black Point plants, which have a combined capacity of 6,000MW.
CLP Power, the biggest single polluter in Hong Kong, generated about 51,000 tonnes of SO2 and 38,200 tonnes of nitrogen oxides last year, with the combined total up by 90 per cent from 2002.
The rise was attributed to increasing reliance on coal to meet power demand from Guangdong and to the shrinking supply of gas from reserves in Hainan.
The increasing emissions come amid deteriorating air quality last year, although, overall, emissions have been on a downward trend for a decade. According to the Environmental Protection Department, all Hong Kong power plant emissions fell from 320,000 tonnes in 1992 to 105,000 tonnes in 2002.
A common feature of the Shajiao and CLP coal-fired plants is that neither is fitted with flue-gas desulfurisation devices, which are said to cut SO2 emissions by up to 70 per cent. The 3,420MW Hongkong Electric coal-fired plant on Lamma Island, which does not publish its emission figures, fitted such a device in the mid-1990s.
About 77 per cent of Hong Kong's electricity generation capacity is from coal-burning.