CLP Power pushes back construction of Sai Kung wind farm for study
CLP Power delays energy project to spend more time on feasibility research
A proposed offshore wind farm off Sai Kung might not see its blades rotating for at least another two years after the city's largest power producer decided to extend a feasibility study into its economic viability and technical design.
The wind farm, proposed by CLP Power for construction near the Ninepin islands, was once said to be the city's most ambitious renewable energy project and was targeted for completion by 2016. But the firm now appears to be taking a more cautious approach to the project.
Richard Lancaster, chief executive of CLP Holdings, the firm's parent company, said the group had already spent 10 years looking into how to build a wind farm in Hong Kong, but it did not want to make a hasty decision.
"The decision has to be taken quite carefully as it is a big investment. We need to make sure the costs are fully understood," he said at the World Energy Congress in South Korea last week.
Lancaster said more solid wind data would be required to confirm the project's economic feasibility, and that a couple more years of study were needed.
The lengthening of the study means the multibillion-dollar project is unlikely to be part of the five-year development plan the company submitted to the government earlier this year.
Construction of the infrastructure for the wind farm would boost the value of the firm's fixed assets, which is the basis on which its maximum permitted profits by the government are calculated. The greater the asset value, the higher the return allowed.
The firm is facing uncertainty ahead of the expiration of the current regulatory regime for the power industry, also known as the Scheme of Control Agreement, in 2018. A decision will likely be made before 2016 on whether the electricity market will be liberalised.
CLP estimated in 2011 that a 200 megawatt wind farm with up to 67 turbines would cost up to HK$7 billion and would lead to a 2 per cent rise in customer tariffs.
Lancaster said he would prefer the wind farm, if it were accepted, be paid for by all the company's electricity users.