Advisory Council on the Environment

Study on the Potential Applications of Renewable Energy in Hong Kong

(ACE Paper 5/2003)
For discussion


This paper presents and invites Members' views on the consultant's findings and recommendations for Stage 1 of the "Study on the Potential Applications of Renewable Energy in Hong Kong" before Government proceeds to formulate a strategy to promote the wider use of renewable energy in Hong Kong. It also informs Members of the progress of the Stage 2 demonstration project to evaluate the performance of various building-integrated photovoltaic (PV) panels.


2.The Electrical and Mechanical Services Department (EMSD) commissioned a two-stage consultancy study in November 2000 to investigate the feasibility of wider application of new1 and renewable energy2 technologies (collectively known as renewable energy (RE) hereunder) in Hong Kong.

3.Stage 1 Study evaluates the potential of various forms of RE for wide-scale local use, and related legal, institutional and promotional issues. It also makes recommendations for formulating an implementation strategy. Stage 2 Study is a design-and-build project involving the installation of different types of building-integrated PV panels in Wanchai Tower so as to assess their performance under Hong Kong's weather conditions.

4.Stage 1 Study has just been completed. Installation works for Stage 2 Study have also been completed and the performance of the various types of panels will be monitored until early 2004.

Key Findings of Stage 1 Study

5.The following sets out the consultant's key findings and recommendations:

  1. Upon reviewing current technological trends and applications, and taking into account Hong Kong's local characteristics, RE that are considered potentially feasible3 for wide-scale application in Hong Kong include -

    solar power;
    wind power;
    building integrated fuel cells; and
    energy from waste.
  2. Major issues that may hinder wide-scale development of RE in Hong Kong include -

    there may not be suitable sites for implementing large-scale RE projects;
    there may be concerns about the visual, noise and possibly safety impacts of some RE systems (e.g. wind turbines);
    the current pricing of power supply has not taken into account the environmental costs associated with combustion of fossil fuel, which remains a major fuel source for energy production. Thus power generated by the more environmental-friendly RE appears to be comparatively more expensive than that coming from conventional fossil fuel. In addition, the prevailing regulatory framework tends to drive investment of power companies towards the 'cheaper' conventional method of power generation; and
    terms and conditions for accessing the electricity grid by third party including RE providers are currently set at the sole discretion of the existing power companies.
  3. In order to create a positive market environment for wide-scale application of RE, the consultant recommends the following measures:

    to put in place a mechanism which would enable investors in RE schemes to earn a reasonable or reasonably attractive return;
    to conduct necessary studies and develop guidelines and standards to address potential concerns to be brought about by specific RE systems;
    to promote the public awareness of RE sources and technologies; and
    to improve the access of RE schemes to the existing power grid.
  4. The two power companies in Hong Kong are each operating under a Scheme of Control Agreement (SCA) with the Government, which will expire in 2008. The SCAs provide a framework for monitoring the performance of power companies so as to protect the interests of consumers. Under the current SCA, power companies have no obligation to generate electricity from RE sources or to offer grid access to independent RE generators. The interim review on the current SCAs scheduled for 2003 will give an opportunity for the Government and the power companies to discuss issues relating to the development of RE in Hong Kong.
  5. Taking into account the constraints of development of RE in Hong Kong and the estimation of possible RE projects coming on stream, the consultant recommends that the targets of contribution from RE produced locally to annual electricity demand (against the baseline year of 1999) should tentatively be set at 1% (355 Giga Watt hour, GWh) in 2012, 2% (710 GWh) in 2017 and 3% (1065 GWh) by 2022 respectively. These targets should then be reviewed periodically in the light of RE developments in Hong Kong and advancement in RE technologies in the international market.
The Executive Summary of the Stage I Study is at Annex I.

Progress of Stage 2 Study

6.The EMSD considers that a stable and abundant supply of sunshine throughout the year and the large number of buildings in Hong Kong have provided an environment favourable for studying the feasibility of using building-integrated PV systems. Stage 2 Study is a design-and-build project to install such systems in Wanchai Tower. The installation works commenced in late April 2002 and were completed in end 2002. The following three types of PV panels, which cover a total area of 500 m2 with an estimated total power output of 55 kW, were installed:

  1. rack type on the roof top;
  2. sunshade type from 1st to 12th floors; and
  3. skylight type at the front entrance hall.
7.The performance of the PV systems will be monitored until early 2004. Technical data collected will be used to assess the efficiency, stability and safety of such systems under Hong Kong's weather conditions. The project also serves as a demonstration to educate the public on the potential use of solar power.

Way forward

8.As the Stage 1 Study has just been completed, the Government will need more time to examine its findings and recommendations so as to formulate a strategy to promote the wider use of RE in Hong Kong. After the initial consultation with this Council and the relevant Legislative Council Panel and other Government advisory bodies, we will upload the Executive Summary of the Stage 1 Study to the Internet for general access and circulate it to relevant stakeholders (such as green groups, academia, business organizations) to seek their views on the way forward. We will also take the opportunity to discuss with the two power companies issues relating to the development of RE in the context of the 2003 SCA Interim Review. However, it should be noted that any proposed amendments to the SCAs will have to be agreed by both the Government and the respective power companies as provided under the prevailing SCAs. Due regard should also be given to the reliability of electricity supply to consumers and potential impact upon tariff levels.

9.In the meantime, the Government will continue to take the lead in exploiting RE in public works projects. A list of major projects that have been or will be using RE is at Annex II. Furthermore, the Civil Engineering Department has identified a man-made slope in Lantau Island for carrying out a trial on the use of solar power pumps for irrigating vegetation. The detailed design is near completion and the tender for the installation work will be invited soon. Apart from application of PV technologies, EMSD has also embarked on a territory-wide wind measurement programme to collect site-specific data for assessment of wind resources at selected sites in Hong Kong. The preparatory work has already commenced and the wind measurement programme is scheduled for completion by mid 2004.

Advice sought

10.Members are invited to offer views on the development of the RE having regard to the findings and recommendations of the Stage 1 Study and note the progress of the Stage 2 study.

Environment, Transport and Works Bureau
Electrical and Mechanical Services Department
February 2003


1New energy technologies include "non-conventional" power generation as well as energy storage technologies such as fuel cells but they are not necessarily renewable energy technologies.

2There is no universally accepted definition for the term "renewable energy" at present. Generally speaking, renewable energy sources are secure and inexhaustible in the sense that there is no problem of reserves being depleted.

3Other new and renewable energy sources / systems reviewed include energy from biomass, small-scale hydroelectric systems, geothermal energy, tidal and wave power, and independent energy storage systems (which permits excess electricity generated during the periods of high availability of renewable energy and lower power demand to be transported and stored, and released later during periods of lower resources availability and high power demand).



Annex II

Use of renewable energy in Government projects

I. Major RE projects on Government buildings / amenity facilities that are in operation

A.Solar Panels for Water Heating

Year Project Solar Collection Area (m2)
1999 Swimming Pool Complex Area 7 Tsuen Wan 313
2000 Sheung Shui Slaughterhouse 882

B.Solar Panels for Power Generation

Year Project Power generation
1998 Tai Mo Shan Radar Station 5.6kW
2002 Science Park Building 1 and 2 18kW
2002 Wanchai Tower 55kW

II.Major projects that will utilize RE

A.Building Integrated Photovoltaic Panels

Project Power generation (W) Progress Expected completion date
Science Park Phase 1b, Building 4 70,000 Under construction Q1 2003
Science Park Phase 1b, Building 5 50,000 Under construction Q1 2003
Castle Pak Hospital Redevelopment - Phase II, Stage 2 30,000 Under construction Q4 2003
Sha Tau Kok Fire Station with Ambulance Facilities 5,000 Under construction Q3 2003
Reprovisioning of Police Dog Unit & Force Search Unit from the Burma Lines Site to Sha Ling 2,000 Under construction Q4 2003
Science Park Phase 1c 60,000 Under construction Q2 2004
EMSD Headquarters Building at Kai Tak 350,000 Under construction Q2 2004
Immigration Service Training School & Perowne Immigration Centre, Tsuen Wan 7,000 Under construction Q3 2004
Fire station with Ambulance Depot and Police Post at Penny Bay, Lantau 85,000 Under construction Q4 2004
Radiotherapy Centre and Accident & Emergency Department at Princess Margaret Hospital 18,000 Tendering Q1 2005

B.Solar Panels for Water Heating

Project Solar Collection Area (m2) Progress Expected completion date
Braemar Hill Fire Station cum Ambulance Depot 135 Under construction Q4 2003



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