HONG KONG, 06 October 2021 – Hong Kong can maintain energy security and work toward decarbonizing its economy by diversifying its regional power sector portfolio and scaling-up domestic renewables, according to a report released today.
The report, from Civic Exchange (CEx), an independent public policy think tank, and World Resources Institute (WRI), a global research organisation, considers a range of low-carbon power sources including nuclear, renewables and emerging green technologies such as green hydrogen and waste-to-energy. Power accounts for 66% of the city’s total greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, making it the sector with the highest emissions-reduction potential. The report, Powering a Carbon-Free Hong Kong, studied five energy mix scenarios for decarbonising the power system without sacrificing its reliability.
Each scenario is considered against emissions, cost, air pollution, health, and energy security. The scenarios are aimed at stimulating dialogue towards achieving the city’s 2050 carbon neutrality goal.
“In 2020, the Chief Executive pledged to achieve carbon neutrality before 2050, making Hong Kong the first city in China with a time-specific carbon neutrality goal,” said Lawrence Iu, HK 2050 is Now lead for Civic Exchange, co-author of the report. “We have to act immediately, rapidly, and with greater ambition as suggested by the latest, Sixth Assessment, IPCC report. Without it, limiting global warming to close to 1.5°C or even 2°C will be beyond reach, and our city will suffer from more heatwaves, storm surges, and extreme weather events.”
The report analyses existing and emerging electricity generation technologies and increasing regional collaboration including importing renewable and nuclear energy through joint venture investments.
Here are three immediate actions the Government can take:
Scale-up domestic wind and solar energy
Hong Kong’s renewable energy has the potential to increase up to 10% of total energy consumption by 2050, which is higher than the current government target of 3-4%. We
recommend a comprehensive examination of Hong Kong’s renewable energy resources. The HKSAR government should also introduce financial incentives such as fiscal and taxation mechanisms to encourage the development of renewable energy by both utility and nonutility companies.
Increase imports of low-carbon energy from Mainland China
Building new nuclear power plants and offshore wind farms are at the top of Guangdong’s energy development agenda. This provides opportunities for Hong Kong to increase its
proportion of imported clean energy via regional collaborations. We recommend Government explore the feasibility of importing renewable and nuclear energy from Guangdong through joint venture contracts between power companies or under power purchase agreements with Mainland China.
Further scale-up waste-to-energy facilities
Waste-to-energy (WtE) technology is an invaluable domestic renewable resource which offers a solution to both waste management and GHG emissions issues. We recommend Hong Kong to consider increasing the proportion of WtE in its energy mix. Government should include a WtE target in the SoC Agreements as a statutory duty for both power companies and request them to develop WtE facilities at their plant sites.
Furthermore, the Government should consider the following actions before 2030 to show greater ambition in decarbonisation: Explore the potential of large-scale “green” hydrogen utilisation, enhance grid balancing and energy storage to accommodate a broader energy mix, explore the possibility of CCS technology deployment, and continue to improve the electrification level of the whole society.
Civic Exchange board chair, Evan Auyang said that “We have conducted extensive research on the power sector, and we believe the best paths forward are included in this report. We do believe action needs to be taken right away for Hong Kong to become net carbon neutral by 2050.”
The Civic Exchange and WRI power report was developed from a year-long consultation in HK and with the Environmental Protection Department in an effort to support Hong Kong’s carbon neutrality roadmap.
If fully adopted, the recommendations would help Hong Kong reduce its carbon emissions by 90% by 2050 relative to 2005 levels. The roadmap would also help Hong Kong meet its economic growth targets, rising societal demand and maintain energy security.
About Civic Exchange
Civic Exchange is an independent public policy think tank with a vision to shape a liveable and sustainable Hong Kong. Our mission is to engage society and influence public policy through research, dialogue and the development of practical solutions. Civic Exchange has been ranked among the top 50 environment policy think tanks in the world by the University of Pennsylvania since 2011.