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Emissions rise, but CLP vows to meet targets

emissionsLast updated: March 11, 2010

Source: South China Morning Post

CLP Power emitted more air pollutants and greenhouse gases last year as a result of more coal burning, but was confident of meeting the more stringent emission targets this year.

The city’s largest electricity supplier still complies with the 2009 emission caps set by the Environmental Protection Department, though the emission of three main air pollutants – nitrogen oxides, sulphur dioxide, and particulate mattergrew by 6 per cent, 20 per cent and 30 per cent respectively last year.

The carbon dioxide released by local power generation also rose by 6 per cent, to 19 million tonnes.


Swiss firm’s €70m solar plane takes off

Forget the discouraging climate talks in Copenhagen and the difficulties in replacing fossil fuels with biofuel on airplanes. In Zurich, about 75 engineers and technicians have spent the past six years pursuing the dream of zero emissions by building a plane solely fuelled by solar power.

The prototype of the propeller driven airplane, HB-SIA, completed its runway test at Dubendorf Airfield, a military airport in Zurich, earlier this month.

Although the plane only flew about 350 metres at an altitude of one metre, the engineers and technicians appeared gleeful when it landed gracefully on the centre of the runway. Bertrand Piccard, the chairman of Solar Impulse and co-founder of the privately funded project, raced to embrace the pilot.

The short flight was a milestone for the project. The next test flight will take place in spring, between Dubendorf and Payeren, another military airport in Switzerland, to find out more about the airplane’s flying capabilities. A second HB-SIA is scheduled to fly around the globe in five legs as early as 2012.

Piccard, a Lausanne-born aeronaut, first came up with the idea of flying a solar-powered plane in 2003. He says people told him it was an insane idea. He was unable to find any funding for this €70 million (HK$782.8 million) project during the first year he pitched it.

But the spirit of adventure runs in the family. Piccard’s grandfather, a pioneer balloonist, set altitude records in his pressurised gondola and later invented a deep-sea submersible that set depth records.

Piccard said he began thinking about how to make a breakthrough in the field after launching the first non-stop round-the-world balloon ride in 1999. “I should do something to reform transport in modern history,” he said.

The idea of the solar-powered airplane came after a failed attempt to fly an aircraft around the world, in which he ran out of fuel. Piccard decided to create an aircraft that did not need to carry fuel.

The first to respond with help for Solar Impulse was Semper, a Geneva-based private asset management company, followed by others including Altran, Omega, Deutsche Bank and Toyota.

Piccard said he is trying to persuade people to pay more attention to developing alternative energy. “No one could say it is not possible to use [solar energy] in a car or a ship if an airplane can do it,” he said. “It is because the technology required for using it in an aircraft is higher.”

About €40 million of the investment money has been secured from private companies and individual donations at present, mainly from Europe. In a bid to take the message to the other side of the world, Piccard has visited the mainland three times over the past year.

“We are hopeful that more mainland companies will support us,” he said. “For example, we’re hoping Suntech [a mainland solar energy company] will provide us with the solar cells,” Piccard said. There has been no sponsorship from the mainland so far.

Still, he is confident that the remaining funds can be raised easily.

“This is because I raised the first €15 million with a PowerPoint presentation only, long before the prototype of the plane came to exist.”

One of the few remaining problems to be addressed in the prototype before the round-the-world trip takes place is how to upgrade the cockpit with a business-class seat from an economy seat at present.

Three pilots, each flying alone, will complete the five legs of the trip in a total of 20 days. Each will spend at least four days in the cockpit. The seat designer must mitigate the pain and fatigue on the pilots by making the seat as comfortable as possible, given the extreme physical and psychological demands on the pilots during the trip.

Unlike racers, who can boost their endurance with energy drinks, Piccard said these would be forbidden in his round-the-world flight. “Since we have to stay in the cockpit for four to five days in a row, we would like to keep our mind calm,” said Piccard, who has a background in hypnosis. Meditation and hypnosis are techniques Piccard and his fellow pilots will apply during the trip.

Still, it will be difficult to stay awake for four to five days. To deal with that, a vibrating jacket was designed for the pilots that will wake them if their position changes to an odd angle.

Flying the solar-powered plane in the dark is another challenge. In the round-the-world trip, the plane should be capable of flying in the absence of light for 14 hours, Piccard said.

That means the 12,000 solar cells attached to the wings and the fuselage of the plane should be able to store energy for at least 14 hours.

The wingspan of the HB-SIA is as wide as an Airbus 340; however, its weight is just about that of a car – 1,600 kilograms. The plane is designed to fly up to a maximum altitude of 8,500 kilometres, with an average speed of 70 km per hour, on the power equivalent of that needed to light up all the bulbs on a large Christmas tree.

The 20-day expedition in 2012 is scheduled to begin between May and July as it is the period when the earth enjoys the longest period of sunlight. Three pilots, including Piccard, Markus Scherdel, the test pilot and Andre Borschberg, the co-founder of Solar Impulse, will take turns on the trip.

Divided into five legs, HB-SIA will start in Europe and stop over in the United Arab Emirates, the mainland, Hawaii and the United States before completing the loop.

One of the key technologies in the project is the carbon fibre needed for the fuselage. Over the past five years, the Solar Impulse technology team has cut the weight of the material in half.

Piccard does not rule out the possibility of applying solar power in commercial aviation, such as building a hybrid aircraft that can fly on solar power when it has reached a certain altitude. “It is foolish to say that we have the technology at present,” said Piccard. “But it is equally foolish to say it won’t happen in the future.”

Source: SCMP

After 6 years, Solar Impulse prototype passes first test with global flight planned for 2012.

After 6 years, Solar Impulse prototype passes first test with global flight planned for 2012.

Two million consumers to pay more, but Hongkong Electric tariff frozen

Cheung Chi-fai
9th Dec, 2009

CLP Power (SEHK: 0002) was yesterday given government approval to raise its tariff by 2.6 per cent next year, including the basic tariff, which was adjusted for the first time in 10 years.

But Hongkong Electric (SEHK: 0006)’s charges for next year will be frozen.

The approved increase for more than two million power users in Kowloon and the New Territories triggered fears that it would push up inflation, and raise more questions on the future cost of clean energy.

From January 1 CLP Power’s charge per kilowatt hour will be 91.5 HK cents – 2.3 cents, or 2.6 per cent, higher than the existing 89.2 cents.

The increase includes a 2.6 cent rise in the basic tariff, which is partly offset by a fall in the fuel charge of 0.3 cents made possible by stable prices over the past year.

It means more than 70 per cent of domestic and commercial users will see monthly increases of less than HK$10 and HK$40, respectively.

CLP Power attributed the basic tariff increase to a rise in capital investment on emissions controls, and provision of a replacement gas supply, along with a rise in the cost of raw materials such as copper and aluminium.

“We are seeing in 2010 a slightly higher level of capital expenditure compounded by higher material costs,” Richard Lancaster, CLP Power’s chief operating officer, told the economic development panel yesterday. Lancaster said emissions control projects must be carried out to meet licence requirements, and new gas supplies had to be made ready by 2012 before the existing source from Hainan ran out.

The company is working on a desulphurisation project, and planning new pipelines from Shenzhen to receive natural gas from Central Asia and a LNG terminal.

The company also has to provide about HK$5 billion for power supply infrastructure at new developments such as in Kai Tak. Lancaster said it was the first time in 10 years that the firm had raised its basic tariff, and the new net tariff would still be lower than last year’s level.

Environment secretary Edward Yau Tang-wah said yesterday that while anti-pollution measures at power plants were necessary, they were not the only reasons behind the tariff rise.

He said emissions control accounted for less than a third of the total capital spending of CLP Power, with about a half being spent on power transmission and distribution to new developments.

Hongkong Electric will freeze its tariff at 119.9 cents per kilowatt hour, without changes to either the basic rate or fuel charge.

“We hope this will help the economic recovery of Hong Kong, and minimise the impact on the public,” Tso Kai-sum, its group managing director, said.

However, Tso warned that the company was still under pressure to increase charges, because it had to double its gas use for power generation to 600,000 tonnes next year, and gas was about three times dearer than coal.

A person familiar with the negotiations between the government and the power firms said both companies had originally proposed raising their tariffs by 3-5 per cent. The person said Hongkong Electric would have a greater deficit in its fuel account next year as it expanded its gas intake.

Concerns have been expressed over the cost of increasing gas-fired electricity generation to a half in Hong Kong to improve air quality or mitigate climate change. Hongkong Electric said it needed to build more gas-fired units for this, while CLP Power said that its newly sourced gas supply from the mainland would be more expensive than what it was currently paying.

Meanwhile, legislator Lee Cheuk-yan criticised CLP Power for ignoring the financial difficulties low-income groups faced.

“This is likely to trigger a chain of price increases and the poor, who have not had any pay rises in recent years, are the hardest hit,” the unionist said.

Miriam Lau Kin-yee of the Liberal Party queried if it was justifiable for power firms to pass on all capital spending to consumers.

Plant’s waste management plan would cost less than incinerator


I refer to the report (“Sewage could be energy source, scientist says”, September 28).

While the studies of Herbert Fang, chairman of environmental engineering at the University of Hong Kong, should be encouraged, I wish to point out that the use of sewage sludge as a refuse derived fuel is not an entirely new concept. There are many operations all over the world that treat sewage sludge and use it as an environmentally-friendly and cost-effective refuse derived fuel.

At Green Island Cement, we have been working on our waste management technology, the eco-co-combustion system, for the past nine years.

We have already presented the government with our environmentally-friendly and cost-effective solution for sludge treatment. However, it has rejected our proposal and decided to construct a conventional sludge treatment incinerator in Tsang Tsui to manage Hong Kong’s growing waste management problem.

Through our eco-co-combustion system, sludge would be used as a refuse derived fuel at our cement plant in Tap Shek Kok. Sludge would be taken from Stonecutter’s Island (using existing transport containers) and further dewatering would be carried out at our site to create sludge pellets. These refuse derived fuel pellets would then be fed into the cement plant’s burner system to replace imported coal.
Together with this technology, the refuse derived fuel could replace about 40 per cent of coal currently burnt at the cement plant.

Our eco-co-combustion system pilot plant tests have demonstrated excellent emissions results, far better than the government’s best practical means.

In sum, our system offers a waste management solution that will result in an overall net improvement in air quality. All residual ash is recycled and used in the manufacturing of cement clinker, thereby further reducing the burden on landfills.

We estimate that the quantity of dewatered sludge which can be treated by our proposed facility would be up to about 2,000 tonnes of sludge per day, the same as the government’s proposed incinerator.

The capital required to install such a sludge processing facility at Tap Shek Kok is around HK$950 million.

This is a substantial saving on the government’s proposal to spend HK$5.2 billion.

It is a significant saving for the public purse.

Despite these numerous benefits, the administration has pressed ahead with its own conventional sludge incinerator proposal, without giving due consideration to our technology.

So while Professor Fang should be encouraged with his studies, we hope officials can provide a forum in which new technologies can be assessed and brought into fruition. If the government will only consider conventional technologies, any new scientific studies or advancements will prove pointless.

Don Johnston, executive director, Green Island Cement (Holdings) Limited

Mainland’s power output up 3.6pc

Reuters in Beijing

Mainland’s power output in June increased 3.6 per cent from a year earlier, state media reported on Friday, the first increase in a non-holiday month since October as hotter weather and reviving economy drove up demand.

Last month’s electricity production was at 309.328 billion kilowatt hours (kWh), in which 241.576 billion kWh were generated by thermal power plants, 62.563 billion kWh by hydropower stations and 5.189 billion kWh by nuclear facilities, all up over 3 per cent from their year-earlier levels, the official Xinhua news agency said.

But output in the first half of this year still declined 2.02 per cent from a year earlier, according to the China Securities Journal, which cited data from the State Grid Corp of China, the country’s main grid operator.

The declines in mainland’s power generation have been narrowing in the past several months after near double-digit falls late last year, as consumption gradually picked up, thanks to Beijing’s economic stimulus policies.

However, the significance of the first monthly output increase was tempered by the fact that hotter-than-usual weather hit some part of mainland in late June, leading to a surge in production late last month.

Power generation in the first 10 days of June fell 1.7 per cent from a year earlier, rose 3.8 per cent in the second 10 days and gained 7 per cent in the final 10 days, the newspaper said.

The National Development and Reform Commission said last week that power output nationwide in June was expected to rise 2.37 per cent from a year earlier.

Mitsubishi Heavy to Test CO2 Recovery from Coal-fired Flue Gas

Atsushi Takano, Nikkei Monozukuri, – 25 May 2009

Absorbing solution “KS-1.” It is an amine-based material having an absorbing performance higher than that of monoethanolamine (MEA), which has been used thus far. The KS-1 helps reduce the amount of absorbing solution used in the entire plant.

A conceptual image of the demonstration plant with a recovery capacity of 3,000t per day

Mitsubishi Heavy Industries Ltd (MHI) and Southern Company, a major US power company, will jointly launch a field test in 2011 to recover high-purity carbon dioxide (CO2) from coal-fired flue gas.

The two companies will set up a CO2 recovery demonstration plant, which is designed to be built at a medium-scale thermal power station in Alabama, the US. Based on the results of this demonstration plant, they will aim to commercialize the recovery plant in the future.

The field test will be subsidized by the US government. The demonstration plant will be constructed in Plant Barry, a coal-fired power station owned by Southern’s subsidiary Alabama Power. Recovered CO2 will be compressed and stored in an aquifer deep underground.

The demonstration plant is composed of various facilities such as those for pre-processing, CO2 absorption/reclamation (absorption and reclamation towers) and CO2 injection. The plant will recover 500t of CO2 per day (equivalent to that produced when 25,000kW electricity is generated). The recovery rate is 90% or higher. The purity of recovered CO2 is expected to be 99.9%.

The recovery process is as follows. Coal-fired flue gas contains not only CO2 but also ‘impurities’ such as SOx, NOx, heavy metals and halogen compounds. These impurities are removed as much as possible in the pre-processing facilities, and the flue gas is cooled to near room temperature.

Flue gas with most impurities removed is taken into the absorption tower. Inside the tower, the gas is brought into contact with an absorbing solution so that only CO2 is absorbed into the solution. The solvent, “KS-1,” is an amine-based material co-developed by MHI and Kansai Electric Power Co Inc.

Next, the solution containing CO2 is sent to the reclamation tower, where CO2 and the solution are separated from each other by heating. Then, CO2 is recovered, and the solution is recycled.

MHI has already commercialized a system to recover CO2 from natural gas-fired flue gas. But, in order to apply this system to coal-fired flue gas, an additional process is required to remove heavy metals and halogen compounds because the impurities contained in natural gas-fired flue gas are only SOx and NOx.

Electric Power Development Co Ltd is also testing a CO2 recovery plant for coal-fired flue gas at its Matsushima Thermal Power Plant. However, the amount of CO2 recovered at the plant is only 10t per day. Therefore, a field test needs to be carried out using a larger scale plant for commercialization.

In addition to the field test announced this time, MHI is planning to construct a demonstration plant with a recovery capacity of 3,000t per day in the UK and intends to start trial operations in 2015.

HK May Use More Mainland Nuclear Energy To Meet Demand

Cheung Chi-fai, SCMP – Apr 18, 2009

More nuclear energy from the mainland is an option to meet demand for new power-generation capacity in six years’ time, CLP Power (SEHK: 0002)’s managing director said yesterday.

Outlining the company’s road map for the next decade, Betty Yuen So Siu-mai said that if energy demand grew by 1 to 2 per cent a year, new generation units would be needed between 2015 and 2017.

She said one option being considered was to import more nuclear energy from the mainland, which has vowed to increase the proportion of nuclear-generated energy from 2 per cent to 5 per cent by 2020.

Since it takes up to eight years to plan and build a nuclear plant, Mrs Yuen said it was time to start engaging the public on the future energy road map, including an appropriate fuel mix.

CLP Power imports 31 per cent of its power from the Daya Bay nuclear plant in Shenzhen. This supply will be extended by 20 more years after 2014 under a cross-border agreement reached last August.

Mrs Yuen said building a nuclear plant was more expensive than a gas one but could eliminate the impact of fluctuations in the price of fossil fuel.

She said that gas would continue to play a dominant role, accounting for at least half of generation, compared with 28 per cent now. This will be done by retrofitting coal units to burn gas and the timely completion by 2013 of pipelines linking its Black Point Power Station with a proposed Shenzhen container terminal in Dachan Bay. This facility would receive natural gas imported from Turkmenistan in Central Asia and liquefied natural gas shipped from elsewhere. CLP would buy gas from the Shenzhen storage plant, supplementing its existing source from a gas reserve in Hainan, which would be drilled further to boost supply.

“We are racing with time since only four years are left for us to put in place all these infrastructures and commercial arrangements.”

Mrs Yuen said they had to take contingency measures in designing the pipelines as any breakage would put the city at risk of a blackout.

With increasing use of gas and nuclear fuel, Mrs Yuen said the role of coal would be diminished and mainly be used as a backup for emergencies. Coal accounted for 48 per cent of generation last year. Mrs Yuen said the proportion of coal could eventually be lowered to a quarter.

CLP To Fire Up Cleaner Generator By Year’s End

Joyce Ng, SCMP – Mar 17, 2009

CLP Power (SEHK: 0002) will fire up its first upgraded lower-emission generating unit at its Castle Peak coal-fired power plant by the end of the year.

The upgrade is part of a programme aimed at meeting the company’s 2010 emission-reductions target. But the whole project, which requires upgrading of four such units, would not be completed until 2011, and the company would have to rely on other measures to meet its 2010 target, CLP Power commercial director Lo Pak-cheong said yesterday.

“We will also have to rely on the use of ultra low-sulphur coal and more natural gas consumption,” he said.

The project started in 2007 and was expected to “considerably” cut nitrogen oxides, sulphur dioxide and respirable suspended particulates emissions, a CLP Power spokeswoman said. She declined to give specific figures until the installations had been tested. Equipment is being installed in the boilers of Castle Peak’s four generating units to reduce nitrogen dioxides emissions during the coal-burning process.

Two limestone absorbers are being built near the coalfield to neutralise sulphur dioxide emissions.

CLP Power said the Castle Peak project would provide jobs for 500 construction workers by the middle of the year.

Under targets set by Hong Kong and Guangdong to improve regional air quality, Hong Kong’s two power companies are required by next year to reduce sulphur dioxide emissions by 54 per cent from 1997 levels, and nitrogen dioxide by 24 per cent.

The government has imposed emission caps on power plants and tightened them over the years to ensure targets are met. Castle Peak Power Plant’s licence renewal in 2007 required it to emit not more than 41,400 tonnes of sulphur dioxide and 27,650 tonnes of nitrogen dioxide in 2008. The caps this year are 39,400 tonnes and 27,300 tonnes.

Mainland Power Output Falls 8.3pc

Updated on Feb 28, 2009 – SCMP

Mainland power output falls 8.3pc amid slowing economy

The mainland cut power output by 8.3 per cent in the first 1-1/2 months because of a slowing economy. Electricity generation from the country’s major power producers dropped to 328.1 million megawatt-hours between January 1 and February 15 from a year earlier. Factory output contracted for a fourth month in January as exports fell, cutting electricity consumption, according to an official government-backed survey. Bloomberg

Clean Fuel Project Kicks Off In Shenzhen

Fox Yi Hu, SCMP – Feb 08, 2009

Chief Executive Donald Tsang Yam-kuen attended a ceremony in Shenzhen yesterday to mark the beginning of a national natural gas pipeline project that will eventually supply clean energy to Hong Kong.

Vice-Premier Li Keqiang also appeared at the ceremony, marking the start of construction of the 93 billion yuan (HK$105 billion) eastern part of China’s second west-east natural gas pipeline.

Mr Tsang said clean energy from the mainland would help ensure the sustainable growth of Hong Kong’s economy.

Secretary for the Environment Edward Yau Tang-wah, who was also at the event, said the construction of the pipeline represented a “big step” towards building a greener Pearl River Delta.

“For Hong Kong itself, it will bring an additional supply of natural gas which increases the portion of cleaner fuel for our power generation, which in effect would bring in clean air,” Mr Yau said.

A Hong Kong government source said Mr Tsang had a brief meeting with Mr Li after the ceremony.

“Mr Li said the central government decided to connect the gas pipeline to Hong Kong at the request of the Hong Kong government and the move aims at facilitating the prosperity and stability of Hong Kong,” the source said.

The source said the cost of lengthening the pipeline from Shenzhen to Hong Kong was not high but would bring huge benefits to Hong Kong.

In a statement, the government said some Hong Kong firms were planning the construction of a conduit connecting to the national pipeline, with an aim to complete it by 2013.

Xinhua said the national pipeline would cross 15 provinces and carry 30 billion cubic metres of natural gas a year to places including Zhejiang, Shanghai, Guangdong and Hong Kong.

The 8,704km pipeline will be made up of one trunk line and eight sublines. Construction of the western segment of the pipeline started in February last year and is expected to be completed by the end of this year. The whole line will be operational by the end of 2011.

The total investment in the second west-east natural gas pipeline project is 142.2 billion yuan, with the 2,472km eastern part costing 93 billion yuan.

After completion, the second natural gas pipeline is expected to reduce coal consumption by 11.06 million tonnes every year, according to Xinhua.