Advisers question the use of precious space for turbines With fossil fuel prices soaring, wind power may soon compete on cost with conventional power generation, but whether Hong Kong could justify using scarce land for wind turbines is open to question, say government advisers on renewable energy. They were speaking after a tour last week of a wind farm in Shanwei, Guangdong. The second-largest in the province, the Honghaiwan Wind Farm generates about 33,000MWh of electricity a year. Yang Yu, the general manager of the Guangdong Jihua Wind Energy Company which operates the Shanwei wind farm, said it cost 8,000 yuan to generate 1MWh of electricity from wind power in Guangdong compared with 5,000 yuan for coal power. 'However, wind power is environment-friendly and it mainly requires one-off investment,' he said. 'Besides, the cost of wind power generation is gradually declining.' Mr Yang said only six or seven technicians were needed to manage the wind farm. In Guangdong, wind-generated electricity is priced at 0.52 yuan per unit compared with 0.35 yuan for coal-generated electricity. Fresh from the visit to the Shanwei wind farm, Otto Poon Lok-to, convenor of the renewable energy support group under the Council for Sustainable Development, said wind power might be cost-competitive enough in the long run in light of the soaring prices of fossil fuels. He said that the noise pollution generated by the turbine blades in Shanwei was acceptable. They were inaudible at a distance of 100 metres. Ng Cho-nam, a member of the government's Energy Advisory Committee, said: 'The process of building a wind farm will unavoidably cause environmental impact. Some environmentalists may raise objections if we build a wind farm on an outlying island in Hong Kong.' A four-month consultation exercise on sustainable development strategies, covering use of renewable energy, is due to end on November 12. Hongkong Electric will install Hong Kong's first wind turbine on Lamma Island in 2006. It is expected to produce 700MWh of electricity a year - a negligible proportion of the 100 million MWh of electricity produced by the company. In July, CLP Power announced it planned to develop a pilot wind turbine in Hong Kong.