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Building more landfills never an option

‘Building more landfills never an option’ shows the total lack of understanding of many HK people about incineration.

30% by weight of what is incinerated remains as ash, that has to be landfilled, ad infinitum. Moreover about 10% of that ash is highly toxic fly ash that has to be encased in cement. HK food waste 3600 m3 per day is ultra wet 90% water content with a calorific value less than 2Mj/kg whereas you need 7 Mj/kg for combustion.

Our daft Govt intends to burn the food waste, meaning accelerant needs to be added making incinerators a waste of energy , not waste 2 energy facility.

Using German test data, burning 1 kg of MSW releases 1kg – 1.2kg of CO2 into the atmosphere, as well as other toxic RSP’s. Interesting that the Environment chief expects to reduce CO2 emissions here on the one hand whilst intending to increase them on the other.

Incineration requires the MSW contacts the flame for at least 2 seconds at 850 deg C – if the waste is wet the burn temperature has to be increased or dioxins can & do form.

We have no source separation of waste legislation, we have no Zero Waste policy, Mass burn mixes batteries & plastics, it is impossible to recycle items tainted by food waste. Our sewer system has such capacity that Stonecutters could handle & treat our daily food slops if industrially garburated in a matter of minutes, a fact supported by CIWEM UK but conveniently ignored by local blinkered ENB officials.

Published on South China Morning Post > Letters to the Editor, August 27, 2015

Building more landfills never an option

Letters to the Editor, PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 26 August, 2015, 5:10pm

The decision to build an incinerator in Hong Kong has presented a challenge to the government.

It has had to put a lot of effort into trying to persuade citizens, especially nearby residents, that they will not be adversely affected by it.

There is no doubt that over the last decade the government has tried hard to solve Hong Kong’s waste problem.

When a waste reduction strategy is decided on, it is important to look at the short-term and long-term consequences of any policies.

With an incinerator the chief concerns are environmental, such as air pollution and concentrated chemical waste byproducts. There are worries not just about people’s health, but the possibly devastating effect on biodiversity.

However, incineration is better than building more landfills, which are not sustainable. The government has found itself in a Catch-22 situation when it comes to the incinerator. It is always difficult to strike the right balance. What is important is that all Hongkongers should cooperate with the government to try and reduce the volumes of waste generated. We have to think about our children, so we cannot be indifferent.

Yoyo Tang Wing-tung, Kwun Tong

SCMP: Bottom line is missing in fuel debate

from Cheung Chi-fai of the SCMP:

The new energy consultation paper raises more questions than answers, disappointing many who had expected officials to explain the impacts of the two proposed options put forward for the future of the city’s power supply.

The first option involves sourcing 30 per cent of our electricity needs by 2023 from the China Southern Power Grid, while the second requires boosting the use of natural gas at the city’s power plants so that it accounts for 60 per cent of energy production by 2020.

Officials said the costs of generating power would double in both options, but what these costs are and how they will affect household bills are not known. Sources close to the government said there were simply too many unknowns to make even a rough but responsible forecast.

With the document now open to public consultation until June 18, the lack of detail makes it harder for people to reach any conclusions and easier for the debate to descend to a case of “local” versus “mainland”.

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SCMP: Hong Kong plans to get mainland electricity without counting cost in carbon emissions

by Cheung Chi-fai and Ernest Kao of the SCMP:

As the city ponders drawing a third of its electricity from the mainland power grid, it also plans to disassociate itself from the resulting carbon emissions, environmental authorities say.

Carbon emissions related to the imported electricity would be left out of the city’s emissions count, the Environmental Protection Department said yesterday. It is unclear if that is common practice when transferring energy across borders.

The shift of responsibility should help the city achieve runaway success in its carbon reduction targets, set at 50 to 60 per cent below the 2005 emissions level. Frances Yeung Hoi-shan, from Friends of the Earth, said environmental officials were “playing tricks” in seeking to meet the targets.

Dr Luk Bing-lam, chairman of the Nuclear Society and a member of the Environment Bureau’s energy advisory committee, added: “This is self-defeating. The whole thing is about reducing emissions, but it turns out that the emissions will be ‘shifted’ to the mainland.”

All the electricity the city now gets from across the border is nuclear energy.

Under fuel-mix proposals for 2023, mainland company China Southern Power Grid may export up to 15 billion kilowatt-hours a year to Hong Kong – an option that Secretary for the Environment Wong Kam-sing has claimed can help the city outperform its targets.

That same amount of energy can be generated locally by coal- or gas-fired plants, but Wong said the city would then be able to meet only basic benchmarks.

The fuel mix of China Southern is one-third hydro power, 6 per cent nuclear energy and more than 60 per cent coal and natural gas.

Clean Air Network chief executive Kwong Sum-yin said sourcing more energy from the firm’s Guangdong plant was not necessarily a greener way, as more than half of its supply came from coal. Kwong feared greater energy demands imposed on the province would in turn spawn more coal-fired plants.

Luk urged the government to clarify why it believed nuclear energy was a costly option.

World Green Organisation chief executive Dr William Yu Yuen-ping said that if the city decided to obtain electricity substantially from the mainland, it should pay attention to storing enough back-up power in case the supply was disrupted.

20 Mar 2014

SCMP: CNOOC backs planned trial of LNG vehicles in Hong Kong; HK Gov: LNG ‘not the best transport fuel choice for Hong Kong’

from Cheung Chi-fai of the SCMP:

CNOOC backs planned trial of LNG vehicles in Hong Kong

The mainland’s biggest LNG supplier is backing a move to introduce the fuel into Hong Kong’s transport market as an affordable solution to the city’s notorious roadside pollution problems.

China National Offshore Oil Corporation (CNOOC) is working with a local company on plans to introduce liquefied natural gas as vehicle fuel, with a vision of building a network of LNG refuelling stations similar to those found in mainland cities.

The partnership between CNOOC and the Hong Kong LNG Company will see the companies work with a cross-border coach operator to trial an LNG bus. But no refuelling facilities will be built yet because LNG is not covered by local laws. The bus will be refuelled in Shenzhen, which has at least 13 LNG refuelling stations to support hundreds of vehicles.

Zhu Jianwen, president of CNOOC Gas and Power Trading & Marketing, said Hong Kong was surrounded by a massive, robust LNG supply network and could take advantage of this.

The world’s third-largest LNG buyer, CNOOC imported almost 22 million tonnes last year. The Dapeng LNG terminal in eastern Shenzhen also supplies Hongkong Electric and Towngas via an underwater pipe.

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SCMP Letters: HK biofuels company makes case for biofuels advantage

Anthony Dixon, CEO of ASB Biodiesel, writes in to SCMP to counter the lack of consideration given to biodiesel by Hong Kong official officials:

There are some encouraging signs that the government is beginning to recognise our local waste-to-biodiesel industry as an excellent already-working model of what it hopes to achieve more broadly for recycling and food waste in Hong Kong.

But I must disagree with the Environmental Protection Department’s ongoing assertion that the introduction of biodiesel will have little impact on roadside emissions (“Biodiesel maker pushes product use in market”, October 28). Surely, given the World Health Organisation’s recent pronouncement that air pollution is a leading cause of cancer, no government can afford to ignore any positive incremental impact.

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SCMP: Loh defends Hong Kong over downgrade in UN ranking

The World Energy Council, the UN-accredited global energy body, published the 2013 edition of its Energy Sustainability Index, for which Hong Kong fared poorly. Cheung Chi-fai of the SCMP reports the response from Christine Loh, undersecretary for the environment in Hong Kong:

The environment undersecretary has defended Hong Kong following its downgrading in an energy index compiled by a United Nations-accredited body, saying the score does not fully take into account the city’s unique situation.

The annual World Energy Council index ranked Hong Kong 40th among 129 nations and regions, two places lower than last year, based on its ability to balance the “energy trilemma” of security, equity and environmental sustainability.

Hong Kong’s ranking was dragged down by concerns over the security of its energy supply – given its heavy reliance on fossil fuels – and its economic stability.

But Christine Loh Kung-wai said the compilers had failed to note that Hong Kong obtained nuclear power and gas from the nation it was part of, making its supply “very secure”. She also disputed the assessment of the local economy.

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Difficulties of establishing biofuels exposes poor thinking of HK policymakers

In 2011, Eric Ng of the SCMP wrote an article about a biofuels plant in Tseung Kwan O Industrial Estate that had to suspend construction, likely due to a lack of funding. At the same time, the article shed light on the difficulties faced by current biofuels producers in Hong Kong: stiff competition on the waste oil market, import levies for feedstocks, lack of mandatory legislation to promote biofuels use, and so on.

One of the main advantages of using biofuels is that it achieves more than some 85% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions. The European Union has already mandated a policy of fuel blending: at least 5.75 per cent of all fuel sold has to be biofuel, with the percentage to increase further in the future, and other countries in Asia also have policies encouraging biofuel consumption. Hong Kong lags behind in such initiatives, and it is not difficulty to see why: Eric Ng, in a recent update on the issue, reports official Mok Wai-chuen of the Environmental Protection Department as saying in 2007 that “biodiesel did little to improve roadside air quality”, backed up by 2002 reports from the US National Biodiesel Board and the US Environmental Protection Agency that “suggested the use of biodiesel would result in a relatively modest reduction in roadside emissions”. The irrelevance of such an analysis – blending 5% biofuel into Euro V standard diesel containing 0.001% sulphur could never have meant reducing roadside pollutants – escapes officials; much of the roadside pollutants are carried by prevailing winds from shipping lanes and industries across the border.

If public policy on biofuels is to be decided on this factor alone, then the real benefits of biofuel would be ignored: once the biofuel industry is established, it can process the city’s waste and convert it to fuel; as mentioned before, biofuels hugely reduce greenhouse gas emissions; more importantly, by helping biofuel operations purchase waste cooking oil, the practice of smuggling waste cooking oil across the border to be converted into ‘gutter oil’ and re-used as cooking oil can be stemmed – which would happen to be quite the moral thing to do, given that such usage of recycled oil is carcinogenic and harmful to human health when ingested.

Click here to read the coverage from SCMP:

SCMP: Energy Policy will be transparent, says CLP chief Richard Lancaster

Hong Kong’s energy policymakers like CLP chief Richard Lancaster defends their continued reliance on unsustainable energy, going about different ‘mixes’ of such sources as coal, nuclear and natural gas to make it seem like they have done much thinking through ‘consultations’.

by Cheung Chi-fai, SCMP:

Chief of largest power firm says consumers will be told implications of each mix of sources

Hong Kong’s energy future will rely on an “open and transparent” public consultation that will tell people the implications of their choices in favouring a particular energy mix, says the chief of the city’s largest power firm.

Richard Lancaster, chief executive officer of CLP Holdings, said all relevant information, from energy security and environmental performance to costs, would be made available.

“All implications should be made as open and transparent as possible so that the community has all the information needed to make a judgment,” he said at the World Energy Congress in Daegu, South Korea, last week.

Environment Secretary Wong Kam-sing, also speaking last week, said the consultation aimed to find out the most acceptable energy mix in terms of the proportion of coal, gas, renewable and nuclear in electricity generation by the power firms.

Any decision on the future mix will have significant bearing not just on cost, but also the environment and reliability.

While the mix was a matter for policymakers, Lancaster said it should be “flexible” enough to meet challenges, including the volatility of international fuel prices. “It is important we don’t lose our flexibility and close all options,” he said.

In 2010, the Environment Bureau consulted on a climate-change strategy that proposed a plan for half of electricity demand to be met by nuclear fuel, 40 per cent by gas and 10 per cent by coal by 2020. But it decided to reconsider it last year after the 2011Fukushima nuclear disaster. The mix is now 54 per cent coal, 23 per cent from nuclear and 23 per cent from natural gas.

Lancaster said to ensure supply diversity, he opposed closing all coal-fired plants. “Coal is something we can reduce. But to go to the extreme of closing down coal-fired plants, it would be a bad thing for us,” he said.

Lancaster also wanted to diversify local gas supply by building a liquefied natural gas terminal in eastern Shenzhen which could bring in cheaper gas from around the world when international prices dropped.

On nuclear energy imports, Lancaster acknowledged there were “genuine concerns” that needed to be addressed. But he said one way of tackling these concerns was to have a Hong Kong firm involved in developing mainland nuclear stations.

“We have higher transparency, modern Hong Kong management style, Hong Kong standards of governance to apply for nuclear power stations,” he said.

Christine Loh Kung-wai, the environment undersecretary who also attended the congress, said that while “some people” in society hated nuclear, she had heard of no one who wanted to completely drop imports from the Daya Bay nuclear station.

“Instead of just telling us nuclear should not be allowed, there needs to be an objective discussion on how we look at coal and gas,” she said.

Loh, however, said it would be difficult for the government to tell the public exactly what future prices would be for different fuel mixes as even the most authoritative agency in the United Nations could only provide a loose range of prices.

21 Oct 2013

Time to set energy policy with goals

SCMP

Time to set energy policy with goals

From cars to cellphones, pharmaceuticals to plastics, and air conditioning to water heating, energy is part of people’s lives more than ever before. Energy is vital for the effective functioning of our modern society and is a key driver for human development and economic prosperity (SEHK: 0803announcementsnews) . However, the poor local air quality and global climate changes we have been witnessing are attributed to an explosive increase in global energy consumption.

We take pride in Hong Kong being Asia’s “world city” and an international financial centre, and being ranked by the Heritage Foundation as the world’s freest economy for 18 consecutive years. This is underpinned by having not only good governance, built on core values such as the rule of law, transparency, freedom, equality and openness, but also continued economic growth.

For a metropolitan city and a service-oriented economy like Hong Kong’s, energy is of paramount importance to economic activities therein. But, somehow, Hong Kong has in place only a few lines on its energy policy objectives, displayed on the Environment Bureau’s website, and various measures focusing on energy conservation and efficiency. We do not have a structured, coherent and comprehensive energy policy to support our pursuit of an economy for sustainable development.

The growing complexity and strategic importance of energy policy demands a “whole of government” approach. The incoming administration should consider empowering the Environment Bureau (best to call it the Energy and Environment Bureau) to formulate and co-ordinate an energy policy with objectives, strategies and action plans to meet the needs and aspirations of our community and Hong Kong’s commitments as a responsible global citizen.

The bureau should study a wide range of energy issues, which include energy conservation and efficiency, and also promote a competitive energy market, diversify energy supplies; invest in energy research and development; and step up international co-operation.

Dr C.W.Tso, adjunct professor, City University (former head of HK Electric power)