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April, 2009:

Honda and Nissan Consider Plug-in Hybrids –  April 28, 2009

Honda and Nissan have been banking on fuel cells and electric cars as the long-term strategy for sustainable mobility. Company executives are now warming up to plug-in hybrids.

Since their introduction in the US in late 1999, hybrid cars have been repeatedly dismissed as a “bridge technology”—a euphemism for a short-lived second-rate technology that briefly serves a purpose until it can be replaced with something better and longer lasting. But in recent statements coming within days of one another, executives from Honda and Nissan are reconsidering the role that hybrids will play in the coming decades.

Honda began leasing a limited number of its FCX Clarity hydrogen fuel cell cars last year, and still sees hydrogen as the long-term alternative to gasoline. However, for the first time, Honda executives are now speaking of hybrids and plug-in hybrids as a mainstream technology with staying power. Nissan is also beginning to consider plug-in hybrids.

For both companies, the plug-in hybrid is seen as the next stage of hybrids and as the key to the technology’s longevity. Honda was banking on a transition to fuel cell cars, while Nissan was primarily moving toward the pure battery-electric vehicle.

Honda began leasing a limited number of its FCX Clarity hydrogen fuel cell cars last year, and still sees hydrogen as the long-term alternative to gasoline. But Honda President Takeo Fukui believes that the cost of fuel will need to increase before hydrogen-powered cars are ready for significant growth. In an interview published by Bloomberg, he said, “Oil prices are going to go up. When that time comes, fuel cells, solar panels, hydrogen, those will be the key words. We will have packages that will be very competitive at that time.” In the meantime, he said the company is “thinking about plug-in hybrids.” He added, “We aren’t thinking about commercializing one right away.” Honda will need to modify its current mild hybrid system—or develop a new approach—in order to produce plug-in hybrids.

The Bridge Gets Much Longer

Honda’s views on plug-in hybrids are also motivated by new consumer tax credits—as much as $7,500 for a robust plug-in hybrid. Fukui said, “We understand the situation, in terms of government and incentives. Naturally, we’re going to have to accommodate that too.”

Nissan also sees a future jump in oil prices as the key to its long-term efficient technology: the electric car. “When GDP growth comes back on a worldwide basis, there will be again attention on the oil market, which will trigger an oil price increase,” said Carlos Tavares, Nissan executive vice president. “We will be in the right tempo to face that environment.”

Mark Perry, Nissan product planner, told, “Zero emission vehicles are clearly our focus and we believe it’s the future state of transportation. Some segments of the market in the near term may best be served by high efficiency internal combustion engines, diesels, hybrids or extended range electric vehicles [also known as plug-in hybrids].” He added that these technologies are “all bridge technologies to the time when battery electric vehicles and fuel cell vehicles can cover every market segment.”

The Key Question: When?

The key question for both companies is how long it will take until electric cars and fuel cell vehicles can reach levels approaching the current hybrid market. After 10 years on the market, hybrids represent less than 3 percent of the new car market.

Speaking at the Society of Automotive Engineers’ 2009 World Congress last week, Minoru Shinohara, Nissan corporate senior vice president, said that plug-in hybrids will be an important transition solution to the pure electric vehicle because they don’t need an extensive public charging infrastructure. The cost of building the public charging infrastructure will cost many billions of dollars; therefore, most analysts believe that it could take decades to construct.

Hybrids will not necessarily disappear even after an electric-recharging or hydrogen-refueling infrastructure is built. Kenji Nakano, senior chief engineer, Honda R&D, also appearing at the World Congress, said, “Hybrid technology is also applied to fuel cell vehicles, range-extender vehicles, and plug-in hybrid vehicles. Thus, instead of being a bridge technology, hybrids are expected to remain in the mainstream for quite some time.”

Second Pact To Push Electric-vehicle Use

Fanny W. Y. Fung – Apr 23, 2009

The government will today sign a memorandum with a second Japanese car manufacturer to promote the use of electric vehicles in Hong Kong, as part of its clean-air initiatives in the budget.

The news was announced by Secretary for the Environment Edward Yau Tang-wah yesterday as he appealed to legislators to support the budget. “Not only can the extensive use of clean transportation improve roadside air quality, but it can also give rise to the birth of an electric- vehicle accessory industry,” he said.

Mr Yau would arrive in Tokyo tonight to meet representatives of three car companies, an Environment Bureau spokeswoman said.

One of the companies is Mitsubishi, with which the government signed a memorandum in February. Mr Yau would take a ride in an i MiEV car, a four-seater powered by a lithium-ion battery.

One will arrive in Hong Kong next month for government departments to test its performance.

The minister would sign a memorandum with another company tomorrow, with details yet to be announced, and meet a third company to discuss electric vehicles, the spokeswoman said.

Mr Yau said the moves would help develop an electric-car market in Hong Kong. The government would continue to discuss with the business sector provision of battery-charging facilities and other infrastructure.

He is to leave Japan on Sunday to visit the Canadian cities of Toronto and Ottawa, and Washington and Boston in the US for talks on other environment-related issues before ending his tour on May 1.

Financial Secretary John Tsang Chun-wah announced in his recent budget a five-year extension of the registration-tax waiver for electric vehicles, to March 2014.

A committee headed by Mr Tsang is to study problems relating to the introduction of the vehicles.

California Approves Emissions Reductions

KEVIN YAMAMURA, McClatchy Newspapers – Apr. 23, 2009

California became the first state in the nation Thursday to mandate carbon-based reductions in transportation fuels in an attempt to cut the state’s overall greenhouse gas emissions.

The California Air Resources Board approved a phased-in reduction starting in 2011, with a goal of shrinking carbon impacts 10 percent by 2020. Fuel producers can comply in different ways, such as providing a cleaner fuel portfolio, blending low-carbon ethanol with gasoline or purchasing credits from other clean-energy producers.

California’s low-carbon fuel standard could lead to a national measure under President Barack Obama, as well as shape how the transportation sector evolves. But businesses and oil industry critics warned that more research is necessary and that its action would lead to higher costs for consumers in a recessionary economy.

Board Chairwoman Mary Nichols hailed the low-carbon fuel standard as a major step in moving the nation away from oil dependence and toward alternative fuels that generate lower greenhouse gas emissions.

“By changing the way we think about fuels and requiring them all to be lower carbon, I think we are now finally creating an opportunity for other types of advanced transportation to compete on a level playing field,” Nichols said.

California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger asked the air board in 2007 to consider a low-carbon fuel standard as way to meet the state’s overall goal of cutting greenhouse gases 25 percent by 2020, as mandated by a 2006 law.

The air board looked at the entire carbon “intensity” of fuels, rather than the impact of emissions from use alone. That meant considering the emissions from the start of production to lasting impacts not directly related to fuel supply.

That led to some controversy over the air board’s regulations dealing with corn-based ethanol producers.

A staff analysis assigned additional greenhouse-gas consequences to their fuels alone based on the potential impacts that ethanol production has on forests and green space. The theory is that increased ethanol production reduces the existing amount of farmland for food crops, which in turn leads to cultivation of untouched land that previously captured carbon.

Ethanol advocates challenged the report’s findings, disputing that their corn-based production had a significant impact on greenhouse-gas increases elsewhere. But they also suggested that petroleum and other fuels were not given the same treatment.

Gen. Wesley Clark, a former Democratic presidential candidate, testified on behalf of Growth Energy, an ethanol advocacy group. He said that greenhouse-gas emissions related to the U.S. military in the Middle East should be considered as part of oil’s calculation.

“There are indirect effects for many fuels, but the only indirect effects that have been looked at are the indirect effects in land use for biofuels,” Clark said. “So if we’re going to look at indirect effects, and I think we should, you have to take a broader look and roll in more.”

The air board promised to work with ethanol producers to update formulas related to the indirect effects of fuels as warranted by future research. But it stood by its findings that other fuels did not have significant indirect impacts.

“The preliminary analysis is there is no other fossil fuel option that has any direct land use effect that comes anywhere near any of the biofuels,” said Daniel Sperling, an air board member and a University of California-Davis transportation studies expert. “We will be looking carefully to make sure that initial assessment is correct. But I do want to make it clear there was no effort just to focus on the biofuels.”

Environmentalists and health organizations praised the low-carbon fuel standard as a significant step toward shrinking the state’s carbon footprint and providing cleaner air for residents.

Roland Hwang, transportation program director for the National Resources Defense Council, said the ethanol regulation is appropriate because it will force ethanol producers to seek cleaner and more sustainable forms of fuel production.

Bonnie Holmes-Gen, senior policy director for the American Lung Association of California, testified that the new fuel standard would help “reverse the legacy of negative air quality, public health and environmental impacts from petroleum fuels.”

But oil producers said too many uncertainties surrounded the new regulation and could lead to unintended consequences, such as supply problems.

“We know that when (consumers) want fuel, they want it when they want it and where they want it, and they want it to be affordable,” said Catherine Reheis-Boyd of the Western States Petroleum Association. “And if they don’t have that, they’re usually pretty expressive about how unhappy they may be.”

Small business groups also testified in opposition Thursday, some noting that California could hurt its businesses by forcing them to pay higher costs to comply.

“We’re doing this alone, and what concerns us is that we might really put ourselves at a competitive disadvantage,” said Mark Martinez, CEO of the San Joaquin County Hispanic Chamber of Commerce. “So I want to caution you to really evaluate the concerns of the economy and our small businesses.”

© 2009 Miami Herald Media Company. All Rights Reserved.

Time To Prepare For Carbon Regulation: Gartner

Green Channel Staff, Questex Media Group, Inc – Apr 22, 2009

Large enterprises are unprepared for the inevitable coming wave of carbon regulation, a Gartner survey of businesses worldwide has found.

Nearly half of those surveyed said their organization’s planning was not influenced by the prospect of carbon pricing or regulation, and another 36% said they were not sure what preparations their company was making.

Gartner said the businesses were almost certain to be subject to carbon reporting and pricing in the future and now was the time to begin. IT management teams needed time to gather the necessary data to establish carbon tracking and reporting systems.

A total of 45.7 % of respondents said that carbon pricing was not influencing their organizations planning, while just 18.3% said it was influencing their organization’s planning for the next 24 months.

The international survey was based on a questionnaire sent to 626 enterprises about their plans for carbon reporting and pricing, and current and future implementation of carbon reporting or management systems.

“While the number of enterprises using or planning to use carbon tracking systems exceeds those legally required to do so, given the inevitable requirements to support carbon reporting in the future, the percentage of enterprises preparing is low,” said Gartner research vice president Simon Mingay.

Regardless of current regulations, enterprises should be building carbon information systems because pressure will inevitably “come down the supply chain to be transparent about carbon emissions,” Mingay said.

When it came to preparedness for the next two years, the UK and France recorded some of the lowest percentages at 7.9% and 10.5% respectively, compared to 21.1% of Chinese and 20% of Indian enterprises.

However, as a region Western Europe was best prepared – 32% said they had some kind of system in place, twice as many as Asia-Pacific or US businesses.

A further question about whether organizations would be implementing reporting or management software during the next 18 months showed most were not yet thinking about how carbon pricing or reporting requirements will affect their business.

“This apparent lack of preparation, and the inevitability that most enterprises will come under increased scrutiny from customers, investors, partners, key stakeholders and, eventually, regulators, should come as a wake-up call to policymakers, boards, senior leadership teams and CIOs,” said Mingay.

“Despite the lack of specific regulations, midsize and large enterprises in developed economies need to recognize that they will be paying for their emissions at some point — it’s just a matter of when, how much and through what kind of mechanism.

“Regardless of the recession, enterprises will find themselves under increasing pressure from stakeholders, including investors and customers, to be more transparent about emissions and reduction programs.”

Breakthrough to Advance Hydrogen Car Production

Alternative Energy – 20 April 2009

One of the main hurdles in the field of hydrogen car research is the development of a good fueling system. Professor Issam Mudawar along with his research team has developed a hydrogen storage system that would allow a car tank to be filled in five minutes and you can drive on that fuel for 300 miles.

But turning the above abstract idea into a reality was not a cakewalk for the project team which is funded by the General Motors Corporations. The biggest obstacle was the problem of heating while one is refueling the tank. According to Issam Mudawar who is the Purdue University (PU) Professor of Mechanical Engineering , “The hydride produces an enormous amount of heat. It would take a minimum of 40 minutes to fill the tank without cooling, and that would be entirely impractical.”

These hard facts posed a great challenge to the Purdue University research team. The heat effect has to be countered and the time limit for refill has to be shorter. For refueling they have used a very fine powder, known as metal hydride. This powder absorbs hydrogen very efficiently but can’t do anything regarding the release of huge amount of heat. Therefore a very good cooling system at all the refueling station is of vital importance.

The research team was working on a solution which can do something substantial concerning heating. They needed accessory connectors that can work at the same time to take away the heat while refueling process was on. So the researchers have to overcome this hurdle and design an efficient heat exchanger. They have to be a pioneer in the field because no one had treaded on that path before.

Keeping the complications in mind the team has developed a system where metal hydride is placed in small “pockets” inside a pressure chamber. They injected hydrogen in pressure compartments and it gets absorbed. But the wonderful thing is this reaction is reversible. Therefore the hydrogen gas is released from the metal hydride by lessening the pressure in the storage vessel. They fixed the heat exchanger inside the hydrogen storage pressure vessel.

Mudawar explains, “Due to space constraints, it is essential that the heat exchanger occupies the least volume to maximize room for hydrogen storage.” The cooling system utilizes the regular automotive coolant which flows inside a U shaped tube between the pressure chamber and the aluminum heat exchanger. The exchanger is designed in such a way that when the hydrogen enters into the metal hydride, a smooth temperature absorption mechanism starts functioning. Darsh Kumar, a researcher at General Motors Corporation is hopeful, “As newer and better metal hydrides are developed by research teams worldwide, the heat exchanger design will provide a ready solution for the automobile industry.”

Clear The Air Says: One Of The Main Reasons Why The Local Air Is Dirty

Clear the Air says:

one of the main reasons why the local air is dirty – look at the fuel mix numbers
In 1999 CLP burned 32.87% more ‘clean’ gas than it burned in 2008
In 2008 CLP burned 2.78 times more polluting PM2.5 coal than it burned in 1999
In 2008 CLP generated locally 38.71% more GWh than in 1999.
In 1999 CLP burned 62% more ‘clean’ gas than it burned in 2007
In 2007 CLP burned 3.25 times more polluting PM2.5 coal than it burned in 1999

Fuel consumed Terajoules 2008 2007 2006 2005 2004 2003 2000 1999 1998
Oil 1,048 868 1,116 1,202 2,024 1,671 1,244 2,163 3,164
Coal 153,565 179,599 148,830 144,938 133,403 153,450 74,472 55,218 88,572
Gas 77,487 63,552 85,462 85,733 85,777 59,367 93,139 102,959 87,650
Total Terajoules Tj 232,100 244,019 235,408 231,873 221,204 214,488 168,855 160,340 179,386

Airline Emissions

Reuters – April 6, 2009

Airlines Urge UN to Adopt Global Aviation Carbon Trading Scheme


To avoid having to comply with patchwork regulations from the United States, the European Union and other entities, a group of airlines is proposing a single global carbon emissions cap for the aviation industry.

The cap, which would be based on the amount of fuel consumed by each carrier, would allow airlines to purchase credits from other entitites. An additional allotment of permits would be auctioned, with the proceeds to go towards the Kyoto Protocol’s adaptation fund for developing nations, development of sustainable aviation biofuels and a U.N.-backed initiative to save forests in developing nations in return for tradeable carbon credits, according to Reuters.

The proposal comes from the Climate Group, a nongovernmental organization, and Air France/KLM, British Airways, Cathay and Virgin Atlantic. Those airlines recently started a coalition called the Aviation Global Deal Group, with the stated goal of seeing that any global climate treaty include an aviation component.

The airlines are presenting their proposal to the United Nations April 6, with the hope that nations adopt a global plan by 2013. The European Union has a comprehensive aviation emissions cap set to take effect in 2012.

The Association of Asia-Pacific Airlines estimates the global aviation industry emits about 650 million tons of CO2 annually.

Environmental Leader – March 9, 2009

UK Airlines Fall Under Stricter Emissions Scheme


The United Kingdom will allow its Environment Agency to fine UK airlines that don’t meet strict emissions standards, according to a news report.

Recently, the UK had indicated the Environment Agency would supervise a scheme to cap aviation emissions in England and Wales.

For all of the European Union, starting in 2012, CO2 emissions from aviation will be capped at the average 2004/06 levels. This will be applied to all flights arriving and departing EU airports.

In other aviation emissions news, Boeing has devised a landing program that cuts fuel use and emissions by giving aircraft tailor-made arrival paths, according to a Reuters story.

Boeing carried out tests of about 1,000 flights into San Francisco International Airport. Using Boeing 777 and 747 aircraft, the Tailored Arrivals system helped airlines cut fuel consumption by 1.1 million pounds and carbon dioxide emissions by 3.6 million pounds over one year, Reuters reported.

Environmental Leader – February 12, 2009

EU Reveals Details Of Airline Carbon Credit Scheme


Because of increased costs for air carriers, business travelers to Europe likely would pay higher airline fares after implementation of a European Union requirement for airlines to buy carbon credits to offset their emissions. Because of increased costs for air carriers, business travelers to Europe likely would pay higher airline fares after implementation of a European Union requirement for airlines to buy carbon credits to offset their emissions.

Last year, the EU proclaimed that most flights touching down in Europe would be covered by a trading system for emissions of greenhouse gases.

With the EU pairing each airline serving Europe to a single nation that would collect payments, it appears Britain would gain the most, based on the number of daily international flights there. France and Germany would benefit to a lesser degree, according to the International Herald Tribune.

The International Air Transport Association, an aviation lobby group, claims the system will cost nearly $5 billion each year to comply, according to the article. The United States reportedly is withholding comment on this issue as the Obama administration reviews climate change policies.

Critics claim the EU carbon trading system is not reducing carbon emissions. Germany’s Green Party, for instance, insists that despite the many benefits of carbon trading, investing in renewable energy is the most cost-efficient way to cut carbon.

Last June, Air France-KLM derided the EU carbon trading scheme as unfair

Environmental Leader – March 17, 2008

EU To U.S. Airlines: Buy Carbon Credits Or Face Fewer Flights


airplane3-17-08.jpgU.S. airlines must join the EU emissions trading scheme or an equivalent system in the U.S. or they could face fewer flights to the European Union, Jacques Barrot the EU transport commissioner, has warned, according to the Guardian.

EU airlines must join the emissions trading scheme in 2012, which could add up to £13 to the price of a return flight as carriers buy “carbon credits.”

All airlines flying in and out of the EU must join the scheme but the International Air Transport Association has warned that 170 countries oppose the move.

European carriers want foreign rivals coopted on to the scheme because airlines who refuse to buy carbon credits will offer lower fares.

In June, a group of six associations representing European airlines published a study that found airlines would have to spend over $60 billion between 2011 and 2022 buying up credits from more fuel-efficient industries to meet their quotas.

Airline emissions were not part of the Kyoto Protocol’s targets for reducing greenhouse gases. Limits on airlines were left to the International Civil Aviation Organization, a United Nations agency. In September, the IACO passed a resolution opposing plans to include foreign airlines in the scheme.

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.

Environmental Benefits of Electric Cars Dismissed as ‘Fiction’

By Melissa Kite, Deputy Political Editor – 18 Apr 2009

The environmental benefits of electric cars are denounced as “fiction” by new research into green methods of transport.

The amount of energy used by coal fired power stations to create the electricity to recharge electric vehicles makes them half as efficient as diesel cars, according to the research.

Britain’s carbon emissions could even go up if there is a sudden surge in demand for electric cars, the new research warned.

It will call into question a £250 million government scheme announced last week offering consumers £5,000 subsidies to buy a new electric car.

The research conducted by the group Transport Watch found that diesel powered vehicles emit approximately half as much CO2 as electric cars when the use of fossil fuels to produce electricity is taken into account.

The research paper says: “We conclude that the notion that electric cars will reduce emissions is a fiction.”

Factors making the rechargeable cars less efficient include the amount of electricity lost on the journey between the coal fired power stations which generate it and the point where it recharges the car, and the energy lost by the batteries and the motor.

The researchers calculated that of the energy burned in a power station, only a quarter reaches an electric car after leakages and losses along the supply chain are considered, giving the vehicle an energy efficiency score of 24%.

A modern diesel engine, by contrast, achieves 45% efficiency.

The research suggests that if fossil fuels are to be burned, it is much more efficient to do it within the engine of a vehicle rather than at a power station and then try to send it via the National Grid, where a lot of energy is wasted, and finally to store it in a battery which in itself might leak power.

Currently the bulk of the electricity used to charge the batteries of electric vehicles is generated by fossil fuel burning power stations.

Only 20% of UK electricity is generated by ‘clean’ methods such as nuclear power.

The research by Paul Withrington of Transport Watch concludes that CO2 emissions could actually go up if there is suddenly a big demand for electricity to recharge batteries as it would have to come from existing fossil fuel power stations.

He calculated that in China, where most generation of electricity is coal fired, electrification of diesel powered transport would double the emissions from that sector.

There are also big financial and environmental costs involved in setting up a battery charging network.

Mr Withrington said: “The government should re-examine their assumptions and should not encourage this until they have decarbonised the generating industry. At the moment, it is nuts. If you bought an electric car now you would be looking at generating the same amount of carbon or more.”

The Government’s plans have also drawn criticism from motoring groups.

Philip Gomm, of the RAC Foundation, said: “Electric vehicles are not a panacea. They are good for generating headlines but not necessarily at saving the planet, at least not in the short term. For today and tomorrow, a lot more attention needs to be paid to refining existing petrol and diesel technology, and making cars smaller and lighter as a way of saving fuel – something recognised by the Committee on Climate Change. These are proven solutions to an immediate problem.”

The RAC has also questioned where the Government derived its £5,000 incentive per vehicle figure, when previous grants to buy electric cars have been £1,000.

The research can be viewed in full at

‘Smart’ Meters To Help 20,000 Firms Cut Power

Cheung Chi-fai, SCMP – Apr 13, 2009

About 20,000 businesses that use large amounts of power, such as restaurants and hotels, will have their meters replaced with “smart” ones that will enable them to monitor their consumption online, Hongkong Electric (SEHK: 0006) has announced.

The data fed by the meter to a business’ computer network can help the business come up with ways to reduce energy bills by as much as a few per cent, the utility says. A hotel, for instance, could decide to run its laundry at night instead of during peak hours. “It will be a useful tool for our users to understand their power consumption patterns at different time intervals,” Hongkong Electric manager Ip Pak-nin said.

“The data will help them formulate energy conservation measures accordingly and gauge the success of these measures.”

Hongkong Electric installed the meters for about 4,000 commercial and industrial users in 2002, Mr Ip said. It would install 20,000 more for other users that consume about 20,000kW a month.

Smart meters take a snapshot of consumption levels every 30 minutes and transmit the data to the users’ computer network.

Businesses can check whether energy-saving measures are working by comparing levels against previous baselines.

They can also receive suggestions on how to reduce consumption through other adjustments.

“It will be a useful tool for our users to understand their power consumption patterns at different time intervals. The data will help them formulate energy conservation measures accordingly and gauge the success of these measures,” Mr Ip said.

Bills for heavy users are calculated differently from those for the public. They are charged not only for kilowatts consumed but also on the basis of their energy demands and when they are made, which is referred to as “maximum loading”.

Hongkong Electric said that if businesses could reduce maximum loading, they could potentially cut their power bills by a few per cent.

Currently, 1,800 top power users, or those accounts consuming no less than 25,000kW a month, pay a maximum demand fee on top of the charge for units used. The fee accounts for 10 to 20 per cent of a heavy user’s bill. Hongkong Electric has invested in the city’s distribution and transmission infrastructure. The smart meter replacement will start later this year and take about 10 years. Meters approaching the end of their life span would be given priority to avoid waste, Mr Ip said.

The smart meter has a life span of about 15 years, half of the mechanical meter, and is also three times more expensive for Hongkong Electric, although it saves the utility money as staff are not required to read the meter on a regular basis.

Mr Ip said they had no plan to introduce the smart meters to homes since their consumption was lower and the basic energy-saving measures, like the use of more efficient products, were sufficient to help them conserve power.

He said the utility would continue to provide advice to the public on how to conserve energy.

Under the new scheme of control agreed last year, the power firm will receive an extra combined total of 0.02 per cent of the rate of return for completing at least 50 energy audits, and achieving a saving of no less than three gigawatt hours a year.