Don't sacrifice energy autonomy: CLP chief

Mainland's natural-gas supplies to the city have already suffered several interruptions, reveals top executive at Hong Kong's biggest power firm

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 10 June, 2014, 4:21am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 10 June, 2014, 2:48pm

Hong Kong should hold on to its energy security and avoid becoming a burden to the mainland by importing power supplies, the city's largest power firm says.

The city produced more than three-quarters of its electricity needs, and CLP Power vice-chairwoman Betty Yuen So Siu-mai yesterday questioned if it was worth sacrificing "energy autonomy" under a government proposal to buy in more power.

Yuen said that just because the city relied on one or two sources for its natural gas, it was wrong to presume the city had already lost its domestic energy security. "We have been self-sufficient in energy for 100 years," she said. "I absolutely disagree with the suggestion that we have given up energy autonomy."

Yuen was addressing officials, energy specialists and an executive from the city's other power generator, HK Electric, at a Business and Professionals Alliance forum organised to discuss the city's future fuel mix.

The government has proposed two options to meet future energy demands: importing 30 per cent of electricity from the mainland grid, or building more gas-fired generators locally.

The mainland is the city's sole source of natural gas - a point cited to counter concerns that the import option would lead to over-reliance on the mainland.

However, Yuen revealed that these supplies had been interrupted several times, forcing CLP to switch on oil-fired generators.

She urged the government to consider utilising ships that act as terminals for liquefied natural gas, meaning gas can be imported from anywhere in the world.

That said, Yuen believed that as the nation strengthened, appropriate integration would bring benefits to the city. "But we cannot become a burden … to others," she said. "We need to ensure we have sufficient back-up facilities and bargaining power."

Yuen also said environment officials had made unfair claims that local power suppliers produced more carbon emissions per unit of electricity than the China Southern Power Grid, which would supply Hong Kong under the government's proposal to increase energy imports.

She said officials had not considered nuclear energy brought in from Shenzhen's Daya Bay plant, which emitted no carbon. If that was included, local emissions were comparable to or even lower than the mainland grid's.

Secretary for the Environment Wong Kam-sing insisted the government had no preferred fuel-mix option. The public consultation will end on June 18.