City could have been world leader in use of electric vehicles

PUBLISHED : Monday, 15 June, 2015, 12:01am
UPDATED : Monday, 15 June, 2015, 12:01am

I read with great interest the letter by Joseph Law, planning and development director, CLP Power Hong Kong Limited ("Despite rising demand, CLP cut air emissions by over 80 per cent", June 4).

He explained that this cut in air emissions happened despite an 80 per cent rise in electricity demand. It is reassuring that both CLP and HK Electric are trying hard to minimise the impact of their business on Hong Kong's fast deteriorating air quality. They have implemented energy renewable schemes, that is, wind farms and large banks of photovoltaic solar panels. However, these only contribute a small percentage towards our enormous electricity maximum demand.

To improve air quality in Hong Kong, we must select fuel that minimises air emission for power generation, implement every available measure for energy saving and encourage the use of electric vehicles that are pollution-free.

Knowing that the government is the largest electricity consumer, then secretary for planning, environment and lands, Graham Barnes, set up the energy efficiency advisory committee. It was a wake-up call with regards to our energy consumption. Substantial improvements were introduced and encouraged by the government and power companies. But implementation was disappointingly slow.

Regarding air pollution caused by road transport, we missed a great opportunity by not making a determined effort to promote the replacement of many of our petrol and motor vehicles by electric models. Hong Kong could have been a world leader as we have the advantage of a relatively compact geographical area with road speed limits that fit comfortably within the range provided by electric vehicles.

And we have the financial means for such an ambitious project. At an American Chamber of Commerce meeting in the early 1990s, it was announced that private investors had submitted, for government approval, a master plan to provide car battery charging facilities at every parking meter throughout the territory. Similar systems were planned for electric buses for fast battery exchange at all petrol stations and depots.

This has only materialised recently and on a limited scale. The cost, range and speed of electric cars have greatly improved. Electric buses have operated in Europe for decades. In addition, our power companies have always proved capable of accommodating the increased demand for charging electric vehicles.

Greater government incentives can substantially improve our air quality.

Shalom Levy, Tsim Sha Tsui