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200MW Wind Farm off Sai Kung Viable, CLP Power Says

Cheung Chi-fai, SCMP – Updated on Jun 03, 2009

An offshore wind farm at Sai Kung, capable of generating enough power for 80,000 households, was technically feasible and environmentally acceptable, CLP Power said yesterday.

The project, which the utility has been developing for three years, calls for 67 wind turbines 135 metres high near the Ninepin Islands, about 10km east of Clear Water Bay in Sai Kung. The turbines have been shifted 1km east in response to residents’ concerns about the visual impact.

“You won’t be able to see it clearly most of the time, especially in hazy weather as it is quite far away from land,” said Joseph Law Ka-chun, the project manager for CLP Power.

The farm would have a capacity of 200 megawatts – enough power for 80,000 households – avoid carbon emission, and help towards Hong Kong’s goal of getting 1 to 2 per cent of its energy from renewable sources in the next decade, the utility said.

CLP Power and its partner in the project, Wind Prospect, which designs and builds turbines, are today releasing their environmental impact assessment report, which they have submitted to the Environmental Protection Department for approval. The bureau still needs to review the business plan, and the project financing would then have to be arranged. Work would begin after 2011 and take three years.

But once completed, the wind farm, spread across 16 sq km, would be comparable to the world’s largest – 91 turbines with a 209MW capacity in the North Sea off the west coast of Denmark.

Hongkong Electric is also studying building a 100MW offshore wind farm adjacent to the CLP Power’s near Ninepin or south of Lamma Island. The utility said an estimate of the cost would only be available after detailed studies on the wind and the waves, which affect the size of the turbines. An earlier estimate by the utility, however, put the cost of a 100MW wind-farm development at about HK$3 billion.

Each CLP turbine would be set between 500 and 650 metres apart. The electricity would be transmitted via a 25km undersea cable that connected to CLP’s grid at Tseung Kwan O. If the wind was sufficiently strong and the technology worked, an alternative plan of installing 40 wind turbines of 5MW each would be considered.

The turbines would be coated only with non-reflective paint, and the air-traffic warning lights would point skywards, with the intensity carefully planned, CLP Power said. For security reasons, marine traffic in the area would be restricted to authorised vessels. But the utility has not ruled out some form of limited tourism at the site.

Mr Law said the construction method, similar to that used for offshore oil and gas drilling platforms, was endorsed by the Buildings Department after a pilot test last year.

It did not require dredging and avoided the negative impacts of conventional drilling and piling into the bedrock beneath a 30 metre layer of mud and sand.

No offshore wind farms had been built with this technology yet and the cost was similar to that of conventional piling.



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