Alex Lo
SCMP Columnist
My Take
by Alex Lo
My Take
by Alex Lo

Know your energy mix (it’s what will keep you warm this winter)

  • Hong Kong will be spared from the global energy crunch, thanks to an old-fashioned, politically incorrect and not very green energy policy and fuel mix
In China, 20 out of 31 provincial jurisdictions have had to ration electricity. Coal inventories are at their lowest in four years. Widespread household power cuts and factory stoppages have been reported. Some traffic lights in Shenyang, the capital of the Liaoning province, have reportedly been shut down.
In Britain, there has been panic buying at petrol stations and supermarkets. Surging energy prices have forced households to cut down on power consumption. Food shortages threaten, and long queues of people are seen waiting outside hospital emergency wards.

Across Europe, countries have reported running low on natural gas to heat homes and power factories as many are phasing out coal.

Thanks to the economic recovery from the Covid-19 pandemic, rising demand for gas has depleted stocks, which are not being refilled ahead of winter.

The energy crunch is spreading across the globe. Not to Hong Kong, though.

Here, whatever you say about the city, its power supply is safe and reliable as ever, indeed one of the most dependable of any developed economy.

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The much criticised scheme of control, a colonial-era contractual scheme that guarantees annual profits for CLP Power and HK Electric, the main power suppliers, has proven its worth.

To be sure, people pay a bit more during normal times, but it’s at times like these that they get a secure, stable supply and steady pricing.

Hong Kong’s energy mix is roughly 50 per cent coal, 27 per cent natural gas, 11 per cent nuclear and 7 per cent oil and renewables.

Greens have been up in arms about the mix. Yes, we are still polluting with coal, but this energy mix, environmentally friendly or not, works for the city in terms of safety and reliability.

China’s power shortage turns dire as traffic lights fail, homes fall dark

For once, the infamous inertia of government bureaucrats actually works for the city.

Except for nuclear power, which draws on 80 per cent of the capacity of the Daya Bay nuclear plant on the mainland, we have kept our power grids separate and did not invite mainland power providers into the local market.

Imagine if some busybody bureaucrats had done that; yes, there were talks.

In the coming season, there won’t be empty shelves in stores, long queues at the pumps, or the need for candles to light your home. Maybe now and then, despite all the recent turmoil, people should count their blessings, such as not having to freeze in winter.

This article appeared in the South China Morning Post print edition as: Energy mix will save city from panicking