Work on wind turbine heralds tiny step towards green power

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 13 February, 2005, 12:00am
UPDATED : Sunday, 13 February, 2005, 12:00am

Hong Kong's flirtation with renewable energy sources will take a step forward this week with the start of work on the city's first commercial wind turbine.

But those who were hopeful the development would go some way to easing the city's haze problems may have to wait a while.

Hong Kong Electric (HEC) estimate the turbine, which will be located atop a 90-metre hill in Tai Ling on Lamma Island, will produce 1,000kW hours of electricity per year - less than 0.0001 per cent of the 10,413,000kW hours the company produced in 2003, and less than a quarter of the amount used by an average household over the course of a year.

However, the company's chief project engineer, Cheung Nai-yik, said that despite its low output, the construction of the $10 million turbine was a step in the right direction.

'HEC's project may be small in scale,' Mr Cheung said, 'but it is important since it enables us to gain practical experience in operating a wind turbine. This may be useful to the development of larger-scale renewable energy.'

The 800kW, German-built turbine will produce electricity in winds ranging from 10 to 90km/h and will automatically shut down in emergency or high-wind situations, such as typhoons.

Hong Kong Electric is confident the 15-storey unit and its 50-metre-diameter rotor will be able to survive winds up to 234km/h.

The company is also planning to build a renewable energy education centre at the turbine's base.

It is expected to go on line towards the start of next year.

'We have overcome many technical and environmental difficulties with this project,' Mr Cheung said, 'and hope ... that green power will be available to our customers early next year.'

He added the company would be taking care to minimise the visual impact of the unit and its associated infrastructure through planting a number of trees around its base and choosing an appropriate colour scheme.

Its height, originally planned to be around 71 metres, has been shortened to 46 metres.