Tuesday, 13 October 2015

Steps ensure reliable energy supply

Secretary for the Environment KS Wong

Hong Kong, China, recognises the importance of climate-proofing energy infrastructure like the Philippines and some other Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation member economies. Hong Kong is adapted to the impact of typhoons. And Hong Kong is also adapted to the increasing impact of extreme weather including heat waves, heavy rainfall and so on. So, we invest a lot to work on our infrastructure climate-proofing.


In sum, Hong Kong has been enjoying highly reliable energy supplies, including power supply. Our supply reliability is over 99.999%, which means the average unplanned interruption is less than three minutes a year. This has been made possible by a range of adaptation measures co-ordinated by the Government and undertaken by our energy suppliers.


I would like to cite some examples of that. Firstly, our Government set up an Inter-departmental Working Group on Climate Change in 2007. It comprises representatives from over 20 government policy bureaux and departments to co-ordinate and monitor efforts in carrying out both adaptation and mitigation measures.


The working group has identified energy supply as one of the key sectors having "high" vulnerability to climate change impacts, including damage to power lines and other assets under extreme weather, higher energy demand due to the increase in extreme weather, and supply interruptions and power spikes. Extreme weather disruptions elsewhere may also affect the import prices of fuel sources in Hong Kong.


Resilience enhanced

Electricity is the major energy use in Hong Kong and so I will take electricity supply as an example to showcase how Hong Kong can make it more climate-proof. Hong Kong's electricity is provided by two private power companies. Considerable efforts have been made by the power companies to enhance the resilience of their generation, transmission and also distribution systems against extreme weather.


On generation, to minimise the impact of interruption of fuel supply, all gas and coal-fired generating units in Hong Kong are able to burn alternative fuels. Both power companies have also reserved alternative fuels for emergency application.


And the majority of the transmission and distribution system in Hong Kong consists of power cables buried underground or installed in cable tunnels that are safeguarded against extreme weather such as flooding, thunderstorms and typhoons.


The remote control facilities of the power companies are ready to enable quick restoration of power supply in the event of incidents. The energy and distribution management systems have been enhanced with an automated solution for fault location and quick supply restoration even under extreme weather conditions.


No major blackouts

With other means to ensure its reliability and such a robust mechanism, we can enjoy a highly reliable power supply and there has not been any major blackout for three decades in Hong Kong.


I would like to supplement something about mitigation and how to develop Hong Kong as a low-carbon city. On top of the APEC's target, that is, to reduce energy intensity by 45% by 2035, using 2005 as the base year, Hong Kong has just released its first-ever energy saving blueprint for Hong Kong, the Energy Saving Plan for Hong Kong's Built Environment 2015-2025+.


It sets a new and aggressive target of reducing energy intensity by 40% by 2025 using 2005 as base. That means a shorter span but to achieve a significant reduction target. And Hong Kong's 60% of carbon emissions is from the electricity consumed in buildings and so we are focusing on promoting green building and enhancing energy efficiency in buildings to achieve the target.


Low-carbon city

To add, the district cooling systems are a major new infrastructure development in Hong Kong that contribute to high energy efficiency and also reduce its heat island effect and other aspects, so that we can enjoy not only a more efficient low-carbon city but also reduce our urban island effect and to be more responsive to the extreme weather.


In short, Hong Kong is making our contribution to both mitigation and adaptation to make Hong Kong a low-carbon city that can have a climate-proofing energy infrastructure.


Secretary for the Environment KS Wong gave these remarks at the plenary session of the 12th Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation Energy Ministerial Meeting in Cebu, the Philippines.

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