Hongkong Electric and a green group have teamed up to explore the feasibility of wind-generated electricity in the SAR. The power company has commissioned the Friends of the Earth to conduct a $1 million exploratory project on wind power. Pending government approval, researchers will erect equipment on Po Toi Island and Lamma Island to gauge wind speeds and frequencies. They hope to produce a 'wind atlas' to show the power potential of different areas and persuade the Government or private developers to invest in wind power. Friends of the Earth researcher Eric Walker said the group would lead the way because the Government had been reluctant to take initiatives. 'We are extremely frustrated by the Government in terms of how it handles the energy issues of the SAR. It acts too slowly until the high levels of a private company realise why it is important. And now we finally have a new source of commitment,' he said. Po Toi Island, at the southeastern end of the SAR, is inhabited by about 50 mostly elderly people. With no electricity supply, most residents rely on small diesel-powered generators. Lamma Island draws power from an on-site diesel turbine and the power grid on Hong Kong Island, both of which are operated by Hongkong Electric. A government study concluded that wind power as a renewable energy source had no role to play in Hong Kong before 2005. However, the Government recently commissioned a consultant to examine renewable energy and has also pioneered a pilot test of solar power in government buildings. A Hongkong Electric spokeswoman said: 'Renewable energy is a world trend and we just want to see if it could be applicable in Hong Kong.' Wind-generated electricity is more expensive than fossil fuel because it needs more capital investment to produce the same unit of power. But Mr Walker said the cost would be offset by savings from pollution and health care costs. Hongkong Electric relies solely on coal to produce electricity. The Government has approved power company plans to build a natural gas power plant on Lamma Island.