• Fri
  • Dec 26, 2014
  • Updated: 10:24pm
NewsHong Kong
ENERGY

Hong Kong business groups give thumbs down to electricity imports from mainland

Business groups oppose proposal to buy 30pc of Hong Kong's electricity from across the border, citing concerns over reliability of mainland grid

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 17 June, 2014, 11:38pm
UPDATED : Wednesday, 18 June, 2014, 7:26am
 

Poll

  • Increase import from mainland: 20%
  • Build more gas-fired generators: 31%
  • Others (please comment): 50%
18 Jun 2014
  • Increase import from mainland
  • Build more gas-fired generators
  • Others (please comment)
Total number of votes recorded: 337

Elite business groups have come out against a government proposal to import 30 per cent of Hong Kong's electricity from the mainland, favouring the present high degree of self-sufficiency.

This has emerged ahead of the end of consultation today on the two proposals for Hong Kong's future energy mix.

The business sector, which consumes 23 billion kilowatt-hours, or half, of the city's electricity, cited concerns over the reliability of power sourced from the mainland grid.

"The import option should only be considered when we are comfortable with the mainland supply," a member of the Hong Kong General Chamber of Commerce said.

Tens of thousands of submissions are thought to have been filed to the Environment Bureau, which has come out strongly in favour of buying in more power.

The consultation reduces the issue to two options: to buy enough electricity from the Southern China Power Grid to meet 30 per cent of electricity demand - equal to 15 billion kilowatt-hours by 2023 - or to triple gas-fired local generation to 60 per cent.

The general chamber favours local generation, according to two members familiar with the body's draft position.

One member said the import option was clouded with many uncertainties, such as how to keep up the city's top-rated reliability of supply after connecting to the mainland grid.

He said CLP Power and HK Electric, both of which had members on the chamber's governing body, did not interfere in formulating its position. But another member admitted it was inevitable the firms' "feelings" would be taken into account.

Federation of Hong Kong Industries chairman Stanley Lau Chin-ho said the group would choose neither option. "We need more alternatives to widen our choices," he said.

Lau said federation members were concerned about rising costs under the local option and supply reliability under the import option. They believed a possible alternative was to increase nuclear energy imports via a dedicated transmission line.

HK Electric managing director Wan Chi-tin reiterated the company's preference for the local option as it filed its official submission. He denied the opposition to imports arose from fears about opening up the power market. "There is nothing we fear from market [opening]," he said. Instead, Wan questioned why the city had to now pick up an option that might have a far-reaching but unknown impact.

The Chinese Manufacturers' Association of Hong Kong said it was "inclined" to favour the local option. It disputed whether power imports would necessarily bring cheaper bills. Still, it believed the electricity market should be opened up to more competition in the long term.

The Business Environment Council also favoured the local option, but asked whether the threshold of 60 per cent gas-fired generation was too high. It said importing power required careful study before its adoption.

The only major business body that did not make a choice was the Chinese General Chamber of Commerce. A spokesman said it did not "specially discuss" the issue. The Australian Chamber of Business said it supported better interconnection with the mainland grid in the long term.

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This article is now closed to comments

epicentre
I'm amazed that the only alternatives discussed are either import of electricity from China or more (dirty) gas powered generators. There are a vast number of angles to explore:
- review how electricity is being used and bring about a change in culture. HK is one of the most wasteful places in the world with electricity consumption. Starting from shops, malls, restaurants and cinemas being chilled to arctic conditions where you effectively need to bring a coat in mid summer to brightly lit streets. Cut it down!
- explore clean energy. We get enough wind and sun light to make this a viable alternative. Offshore wind parks are just one idea. Or solar-panelled roof or building facades another.
- store energy as hydro-energy in lakes and reservoirs
And this is just on top of my head. And all viable in HKs geography.
ianson
Build Hong Kong's own nuclear - save lives with clean air, reduce global warming, stay independent.
Beaker
Now, watch as the scripted "debate" starts. SCMP starts debate about non-debate about what Beijing has already decided will happen with HK depending on 30% of power from Mainland as grappling hooks into HK, to ensure acquiescence. HK cannot operate without 30% of power. Look at how much Ukraine can do vs. the Russians. After several more months of this false "debate", the conclusion will be: HK will get 30% of its power from Mainland sources.
Funny that is how puppet governments work, isn't it?
sydmel
To buy electricty from the Southern Grid means a lot: 1. give up another HK's industry and hand over jobs to the mainland; 2. HK will live on the mercy of a big monoploy from across the border; 3. HK government will abrogate its supervision of power supply in HK (another deliberate act to prepare for 100% integration into the mainland in 2047?); 4. A big question mark on our future electricity bill.
birdnbirdhk
ENB shot itself in the foot by presenting grid imports and local generation as alternatives. The opportunity cost of turning down either option for the next 30 years will be huge. Keep both options on the table and make HK's power companies compete with CSG for their slice of the business. When you are shopping for nearly 15bn kWh per year, you don't buy it all from the same shop!
jst
Fully agree with the comments from "Sperlinghk". Temperatures in malls, offices, etc. should be adjusted to a normal level. Off-shore parks like in the North Sea would be an option and of course solar power. And consider our daily food waste. Municipal solid waste is also a good resource for bio mass power plants. In addition to that the local power companies should upgrade their facilities (more efficient and less emission) European Standards are a good guideline.
Hollander323
Apparently the scare tactics of the 2 local power companies works....
Engineers in EMSD are knowledgeable enough and should come out to explain to the HK public that importing energy from the high voltage transmission grid of China are just as secure, and basically the difference in reliability performance between HK and the mainland lies with their distribution networks where HK is more superior due to its more expensive underground systems. The reliability levels of the 2 transmission networks are basically the same. The security level of generation as far as exporting to HK is concerned is high due to its huge size with great number of generators distributed in different parts of the entire transmission network.
sydmel
China has two Grid companies. The Southern Grid operates in five provinces in the South covering Guangdong and Guangxi. The National State Grid has the monopoly of the market in the rest of China. All electricity plants in the mainland have to sell their output to these two Grids which in turn supply electricity to consumers. Because of their market monopoly, these two Grids can dictate (to certain degree abuse) both their suppliers (power plants) and customers (the public). Rampant corruption in these two colossals should not be a surprise. To achieve what is the most desirable, HK Govt should acquire from the mainland the Daya Bay and Lingao nuclear plants, operate the plants with HK-based electricty company to serve HK with dedicated power line.
53919dad-e488-45a8-a2e5-0bca0a320969
my vote is nuclear, and min 50% supply from guangdong province.
pangkf
I just want to say - China is unreliable and untrustworthy!

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