Technology has slashed CLP power generation emissions since 1990
Switch to nuclear and gas power, and fitting scrubbers to coal-fired plant, brought 80pc cut in pollution since 1990 as output soared
Hong Kong has a global reputation as a dynamic, power-hungry city with a growing carbon footprint and sometimes eye-wateringly high levels of air pollution.
The impact of pollution on people's health and the liveability of Hong Kong has rightly become one of the city's primary concerns and has generated years of heated debate. But facts can sometimes disappear in the smog of heated discussions - and what is often overlooked is that our city has also scored some notable victories in tackling some of the sources of pollution.
Road and marine traffic have become the largest local sources of air pollutants, while emissions from electricity generation have been reduced. Hong Kong's largest power company, CLP, has reduced its emissions from power generation by about 80 per cent since 1990 while simultaneously increasing production by the same percentage to meet the demand.
This dramatic fall in emissions has been achieved through the successful application of various clean-air technologies, initiation of innovative operational measures and a commitment to monitor emissions closely and continually. CLP has implemented three major technologies in conjunction with various operational measures such as using ultra-low-sulphur coal to achieve this significant reduction.
The three major technological milestones were the import of nuclear power in 1994, the introduction of natural-gas-fired power generation in 1996, and the installation of large-scale advanced emission-control equipment in 2010.
These efforts, in conjunction with significant improvements in both the hardware and software of emissions control, sent the levels of pollutants produced by electricity generation tumbling.
The biggest single hardware improvement was the large-scale desulphurisation and nitrogen-oxide emission-control equipment installed in 2010 at the coal-fired Castle Peak Power Station. The four largest power-generating units were retrofitted with flue-gas desulphurisation units, boosted over-fire air units and selective catalytic reduction equipment.
The investment in clean-air technology cut nitrogen-oxide emissions by more than 50 per cent, sulphur-dioxide emissions by more than 90 per cent, and particle emissions by more than 99.8 per cent.
To ensure these advanced systems live up to their billing, a robust emissions management and monitoring system was put in place.
CLP's emissions-monitoring team manages 400,000 pieces of data a month. Relying on information from equipment and tests conducted up to 40 metres high within the power station, they provide vital information that is incorporated in the daily operation of the power plant. Independent experts from Hong Kong and overseas conduct regular comprehensive audits to validate and guarantee the integrity of the data-monitoring process.
Understandably in today's climate of environmental anxiety, the government is continuing to tighten emission controls as a way to tackle our city's air-pollution issues. A British expert on UK emissions requirements remarked that the regulations for power-station emission control in Hong Kong were even more stringent than those in his country.
CLP, as the biggest electricity supplier in Hong Kong, is fully committed to a reliable and clean electricity supply to contribute to a cleaner, greener future for Hong Kong.
Rick Truscott is director (generation) at CLP Power Hong Kong