The city's quest for a suitable combination of energy sources looks set to go back to the drawing board, as a previous proposal and emission reduction targets may no longer work, green activists say.
Top environment officials are apparently backtracking on earlier energy plans, given rising prices of natural gas and doubts cast on the use of nuclear energy after the Fukushima crisis last year, the activists say.
Reactors at Fukushima, Japan, were hit by a tsunami, sparking meltdowns that spread radiation over a large area.
At a consultation session yesterday, officials hinted that a proposed fuel mix and even emission targets that the Environment Bureau published in a consultation document two years ago would no longer be valid, participants said.
The document proposes that half of the city's power needs be met by nuclear energy, 40 per cent by natural gas and 10 per cent from coal.
This fuel mix aims to cut the city's carbon intensity - the amount of carbon dioxide generated in producing a unit of gross domestic product - by up to 60 per cent on 2005 levels by 2020.
"They say there is no need to bring out the document now," Greenpeace campaigner Prentice Koo Wai-muk said.
Koo said officials seemed far from abandoning the idea of drawing more nuclear energy from Guangdong. However, they were willing to revisit what they said was an overestimate in future demand in the document, he said.
The session, organised by the Environment Bureau, gathered about 100 people including academics and energy experts to give their views on what the city's energy fuel mix should be.
Secretary for the Environment Wong Kam-sing said participants discussed the overall direction in deciding the energy mix and the need to strike a balance between energy security, safety, tariffs and environment protection.
"The key question is what the most appropriate process is that can achieve consensus within Hong Kong over this complex issue," he said after the session.