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Environmental, social and governance

Sino Group plans to sell solar energy from its Gold Coast and Skyline Tower properties under Hong Kong’s ‘feed-in tariff’ scheme 

Property giant will apply to sell renewable energy to city’s power grid, showing that project is gaining interest not just from individuals, but developers too

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 09 May, 2018, 10:00am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 09 May, 2018, 10:13pm

A popular Hong Kong seaside residential and resort complex will apply to sell solar power to the public grid later this year, in a sign that the upcoming “feed-in tariff” scheme is garnering interest not just from homeowners, but from developers too.

Sino Group said it was open to buying renewable energy certificates – which would allow them to “own” a unit of energy from a renewable source – as well, but felt it would be more effective to invest more in its own distributed renewable energy generation.

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The developer is applying for the feed-in tariff scheme for its Gold Coast development in Tuen Mun and Skyline Tower office building in Kowloon Bay. 

The latter already has a 0.45 kilowatt solar photovoltaic system on its car park roof garden to power lift lobby lights, but the company said a more “substantial” 56kW system is being planned for the office tower roof and will feed electricity into the grid.

A 114kW system will be installed at the roof and first floors of the Gold Coast Piazza shopping centre.

“The easiest would be to just buy the certificates. But we choose the more tortuous route because it’s the means that we will benefit from, more than the ends,” executive director Sunny Yeung Kwong, who oversees the group’s sustainability committee, said. “We are open-minded with that, but if possible, we want to participate [in supplying renewable energy].” 

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The city’s two power companies, CLP Power and HK Electric will roll out the feed-in tariff scheme as part of their newly amended regulatory framework with the government in October and next January respectively. The former starts taking applications on Wednesday and the latter in September.

Households and businesses with rooftop solar panels or wind systems will be able to sell power to the grid at higher than market rates – HK$3 (US$0.38) to HK$5 per unit of electricity, depending on capacity – shortening the payback period on their investments to about 10 years.

The power companies will offset some of the costs by selling renewable energy certificates to businesses and possibly individuals, who can buy them to lower their own carbon emissions or for corporate social responsibility commitments. 

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Environment secretary Wong Kam-sing said the certificates would allow people or companies unable to produce their own clean energy a chance to support “green energy farmers”.

Meanwhile, Sino has also rolled out a plan to slash the amount of single-use plastics used across its operations by half in the next four years.

Measures include replacing bathroom amenities at hotels with refillable dispensers, studying alternatives to plastic drinking straws and stirrers, minimising provision of bottled water and having hotel restaurants switch to biodegradable food packaging and cutlery by 2019.

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The group’s new Ocean Park hotel will provide rooms with centralised water distribution systems instead of bottled water.

“It is a long, continuous commitment. I would call it a battle against habits – a situation in the past of being spoiled by convenience,” Yeung said.