Clear The Air Energy Blog Rotating Header Image

July, 2008:

Government Should Raise Energy-Saving Awareness

Updated on Jul 20, 2008 – SCMP

Neon lights and bright advertising signs are what give tourist districts such as Tsim Sha Tsui their distinct character. Visitors are dazzled by the lights. But understandably, many people who live in these places feel differently about the heat they generate and the light that shines into their homes at night. Light pollution is not comparable to air pollution in terms of the direct health risks it poses to the public. Nevertheless, it is increasingly commanding attention because of the serious nuisance it causes to residents.

It also has a direct link to air pollution and energy wastage. Government figures from last year show that between 1997 and 2004, total energy consumption jumped by 25 per cent even though our population only increased by 4.3 per cent during the period. Now, the government is handing out HK$3,600 to 2.4 million households to subsidise electricity bills. While this provides help to the needy, many families that will benefit are affluent and do not need the money. Furthermore, the exercise will spur people to use more electricity. People will feel freer to turn on lights and keep them on for longer – in short, more energy consumption, more burning of coal from our two power companies and, therefore, more pollution.

Green group Friends of the Earth has been calling attention to the problem of light pollution. This includes taking people on tours along Nathan Road to see for themselves the extent of the problem. This is a valuable public service because there is a need to educate people and raise awareness. With such efforts, there have also been calls for legislation. But the legislative route should only be pursued when there is an overwhelming public interest at stake. It is not clear this is the case. Businesses require signs to attract customers at night, and whether a sign is too bright is usually a subjective judgment. Nathan Road, in any case, would not be what it is without the cacophony of noise and light. The way forward should be for the government to step up campaigns to tell people and businesses not to be wasteful with excessive lights. It certainly has an educational responsibility to encourage the public to conserve energy after deciding to dole out its ill-advised electricity subsidy.

Stop Depending On Fossil Fuels

Another giant leap

Nobel Peace Prize winner and former vice-president Al Gore has challenged the US to stop depending on fossil fuels. This is an edited transcript of his speech

Al Gore

Updated on Jul 20, 2008 – SCMP

There are times in the history of our nation when our very way of life depends upon dispelling illusions and awakening to the challenge of a present danger. In such moments, we are called upon to move quickly and boldly to shake off complacency, throw aside old habits and rise, clear-eyed and alert, to the necessity of big changes. Those who, for whatever reason, refuse to do their part must either be persuaded to join the effort or asked to step aside. This is such a moment. The survival of the United States of America as we know it is at risk. And even more – if more should be required – the future of human civilisation is at stake.

I don’t remember a time in our country when so many things seemed to be going so wrong simultaneously. Our economy is in terrible shape and getting worse, gasoline prices are increasing dramatically, and so are electricity rates. Jobs are being outsourced. Home mortgages are in trouble. Banks, automobile companies and other institutions we depend upon are under growing pressure. Distinguished senior business leaders are telling us that this is just the beginning unless we find the courage to make some major changes quickly.

The climate crisis, in particular, is getting a lot worse – much more quickly than predicted. Scientists with access to data from navy submarines traversing underneath the north polar ice cap have warned that there is now a 75 per cent chance that within five years the entire ice cap will completely disappear during the summer months. This will further increase the melting pressure on Greenland. According to experts, the Jakobshavn glacier, one of Greenland’s largest, is moving at a faster rate than ever before, losing 20 million tons (18.14 million tonnes) of ice every day, equivalent to the amount of water used every year by the residents of New York City.

Two major studies from military intelligence experts have warned our leaders about the dangerous national security implications of the climate crisis, including the possibility of hundreds of millions of climate refugees destabilising nations around the world.

Just two days ago, 27 senior statesmen and retired military leaders warned of the national security threat from an “energy tsunami” that would be triggered by a loss of our access to foreign oil. Meanwhile, the war in Iraq continues, and now the war in Afghanistan appears to be getting worse.

And by the way, our weather sure is getting strange, isn’t it? There seem to be more tornadoes than in living memory, longer droughts, bigger downpours and record floods. Unprecedented fires are burning in California and elsewhere in the American West. Higher temperatures lead to drier vegetation that makes kindling for mega-fires of the kind that have been raging in Canada, Greece, Russia, China, South America, Australia and Africa. Scientists in the Department of Geophysics and Planetary Science at Tel Aviv University tell us that for every one degree increase in temperature, lightning strikes will go up another 10 per cent. And it is lightning, after all, that is principally responsible for igniting the conflagration in California today.

Like a lot of people, it seems to me that all these problems are bigger than any of the solutions that have thus far been proposed for them, and that’s been worrying me.

I’m convinced that one reason we’ve seemed paralysed in the face of these crises is our tendency to offer old solutions to each crisis separately- without taking the others into account. And these outdated proposals have not only been ineffective – they almost always make the other crises even worse.

Yet when we look at all three of these seemingly intractable challenges at the same time, we can see the common thread running through them, deeply ironic in its simplicity: our dangerous over-reliance on carbon-based fuels is at the core of all three of these challenges – the economic, environmental and national security crises.

We’re borrowing money from China to buy oil from the Persian Gulf to burn it in ways that destroy the planet. Every bit of that’s got to change.

But if we grab hold of that common thread and pull it hard, all of these complex problems begin to unravel and we will find that we’re holding the answer to all of them right in our hand.

What if we could use fuels that are not expensive, don’t cause pollution and are abundantly available right here at home?

We have such fuels. Scientists have confirmed that enough solar energy falls on the surface of the earth every 40 minutes to meet 100 per cent of the entire world’s energy needs for a full year. Tapping just a small portion of this solar energy could provide all of the electricity the US uses.

And enough wind power blows through the midwest corridor every day to also meet 100 per cent of US electricity demand. Geothermal energy, similarly, is capable of providing enormous supplies of electricity for America.

The quickest, cheapest and best way to start using all this renewable energy is in the production of electricity. In fact, we can start right now using solar power, wind power and geothermal power to make electricity for our homes and businesses.

But to make this exciting potential a reality, and truly solve our nation’s problems, we need a new start.

That’s why I’m proposing today a strategic initiative designed to free us from the crises that are holding us down and to regain control of our own destiny. It’s not the only thing we need to do. But this strategic challenge is the lynchpin of a bold new strategy needed to re-power America.

Today I challenge our nation to commit to producing 100 per cent of our electricity from renewable energy and truly clean carbon-free sources within 10 years.

This goal is achievable, affordable and transformative. It represents a challenge to all Americans – in every walk of life: to our political leaders, entrepreneurs, innovators, engineers, and to every citizen.

A few years ago, it would not have been possible to issue such a challenge. But here’s what’s changed: the sharp cost reductions now beginning to take place in solar, wind, and geothermal power – coupled with the recent dramatic price increases for oil and coal – have radically changed the economics of energy.

When I first went to Congress 32 years ago, I listened to experts testify that if oil ever got to US$35 a barrel, then renewable sources of energy would become competitive. Well, today, the price of oil is over US$135 per barrel. And sure enough, billions of dollars of new investment are flowing into the development of concentrated solar thermal, photovoltaics, windmills, geothermal plants, and a variety of ingenious new ways to improve our efficiency and conserve presently wasted energy.

And as the demand for renewable energy grows, the costs will continue to fall. Let me give you one revealing example: the price of the specialised silicon used to make solar cells was recently as high as US$300 per kilogram. But the newest contracts have prices as low as US$50 a kilogram.

You know, the same thing happened with computer chips – also made out of silicon. The price paid for the same performance came down by 50 per cent every 18 months – year after year, and that’s what’s happened for 40 years in a row.

To those who argue that we do not yet have the technology to accomplish these results with renewable energy: I ask them to come with me to meet the entrepreneurs who will drive this revolution. I’ve seen what they are doing and I have no doubt that we can meet this challenge.

To those who say the costs are still too high: I ask them to consider whether the costs of oil and coal will ever stop increasing if we keep relying on quickly depleting energy sources to feed a rapidly growing demand all around the world. When demand for oil and coal increases, their price goes up. When demand for solar cells increases, the price often comes down.

When we send money to foreign countries to buy nearly 70 per cent of the oil we use every day, they build new skyscrapers and we lose jobs. When we spend that money building solar arrays and windmills, we build competitive industries and gain jobs here at home.

Of course there are those who will tell us this can’t be done. Some of the voices we hear are the defenders of the status quo – the ones with a vested interest in perpetuating the current system, no matter how high a price the rest of us will have to pay. But even those who reap the profits of the carbon age have to recognise the inevitability of its demise. As one Opec oil minister observed: “The Stone Age didn’t end because of a shortage of stones.”

To those who say 10 years is not enough time, I respectfully ask them to consider what the world’s scientists are telling us about the risks we face if we don’t act in 10 years. The leading experts predict that we have less than 10 years to make dramatic changes in our global warming pollution lest we lose our ability to ever recover from this environmental crisis. When the use of oil and coal goes up, pollution goes up. When the use of solar, wind and geothermal increases, pollution comes down.

To those who say the challenge is not politically viable: I suggest they go before the American people and try to defend the status quo. Then bear witness to the people’s appetite for change.

I for one do not believe our country can withstand 10 more years of the status quo. Our families cannot stand 10 more years of gas price increases. Our workers cannot stand 10 more years of job losses and outsourcing of factories. Our economy cannot stand 10 more years of sending US$2 billion every 24 hours to foreign countries for oil. And our soldiers and their families cannot take another 10 years of repeated troop deployments to dangerous regions that just happen to have large oil supplies.

What could we do instead for the next 10 years? What should we do during the next 10 years? Some of our greatest accomplishments as a nation have resulted from commitments to reach a goal that fell well beyond the next election: the Marshall Plan, Social Security, the interstate highway system. But a political promise to do something 40 years from now is universally ignored because everyone knows that it’s meaningless. Ten years is about the maximum time that we as a nation can hold a steady aim and hit our target.

When President John F. Kennedy challenged our nation to land a man on the moon and bring him back safely in 10 years, many people doubted we could accomplish that goal. But eight years and two months later, Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin walked on the surface of the moon.

To be sure, reaching the goal of 100 per cent renewable and truly clean electricity within 10 years will require us to overcome many obstacles. At present, for example, we do not have a unified national grid that is sufficiently advanced to link the areas where the sun shines and the wind blows to the cities in the East and the West that need the electricity. Our grids are antiquated, fragile, and vulnerable to cascading failure. Power outages and defects in the current grid system cost US businesses more than US$120 billion a year. It has to be upgraded anyway.

We could further increase the value and efficiency of a Unified National Grid by helping our struggling auto giants switch to the manufacture of plug-in electric cars. An electric vehicle fleet would sharply reduce the cost of driving a car, reduce pollution, and increase the flexibility of our electricity grid.

At the same time, of course, we need to greatly improve our commitment to efficiency and conservation. That’s the best investment we can make.

In order to foster international co-operation, it is also essential that the United States rejoin the global community and lead efforts to secure an international treaty at Copenhagen in December of next year that includes a cap on carbon dioxide emissions and a global partnership that recognises the necessity of addressing the threats of extreme poverty and disease as part of the world’s agenda for solving the climate crisis.

Of course the greatest obstacle to meeting the challenge of 100 per cent renewable electricity in 10 years may be the deep dysfunction of our politics and our self-governing system as it exists today. In recent years, our politics has tended towards incremental proposals made up of small policies designed to avoid offending special interests, alternating with occasional baby steps in the right direction. Our democracy has become sclerotic at a time when these crises require boldness.

It is only a truly dysfunctional system that would buy into the perverse logic that the short-term answer to high gasoline prices is drilling for more oil 10 years from now.

Am I the only one who finds it strange that our government so often adopts a so-called solution that has absolutely nothing to do with the problem it is supposed to address? When people rightly complain about higher gasoline prices, we propose to give more money to the oil companies and pretend that they’re going to bring gasoline prices down.

It will do nothing of the sort, and everyone knows it. If we keep going back to the same policies that have never ever worked in the past and have served only to produce the highest gasoline prices in history alongside the greatest oil company profits in history, nobody should be surprised if we get the same result over and over again. But the Congress may be poised to move in that direction anyway because some of them are being stampeded by lobbyists for special interests that know how to make the system work for them instead of the American people.

If you want to know the truth about gasoline prices, here it is: the exploding demand for oil, especially in places like China, is overwhelming the rate of new discoveries by so much that oil prices are almost certain to continue upward over time no matter what the oil companies promise. And politicians cannot bring gasoline prices down in the short term.

However, there actually is one extremely effective way to bring the costs of driving a car way down within a few short years. The way to bring gas prices down is to end our dependence on oil and use the renewable sources that can give us the equivalent of US$1 per gallon gasoline.

Many Americans have begun to wonder whether or not we’ve simply lost our appetite for bold policy solutions. And folks who claim to know how our system works these days have told us we might as well forget about our political system doing anything bold, especially if it is contrary to the wishes of special interests. And I’ve got to admit, that sure seems to be the way things have been going. But I’ve begun to hear different voices in this country from people who are not only tired of baby steps and special interest politics, but are hungry for a new, different and bold approach.

We are on the eve of a presidential election. We are in the midst of an international climate treaty process that will conclude its work before the end of the first year of the new president’s term. It is a great error to say that the United States must wait for others to join us in this matter. In fact, we must move first, because that is the key to getting others to follow; and because moving first is in our own national interest.

So I ask you to join with me to call on every candidate, at every level, to accept this challenge – for America to be running on 100 per cent zero-carbon electricity in 10 years. It’s time for us to move beyond empty rhetoric. We need to act now.

This is a generational moment. A moment when we decide our own path and our collective fate. I’m asking you – each of you – to join me and build this future. Please join the WE campaign at We need you. And we need you now. We’re committed to changing not just light bulbs, but laws. And laws will only change with leadership.

On July 16, 1969, the United States of America was finally ready to meet President Kennedy’s challenge of landing Americans on the moon. I watched along with hundreds of millions of others around the world as Neil Armstrong took one small step to the surface of the moon and changed the history of the human race.

We must now lift our nation to reach another goal that will change history. Our entire civilisation depends upon us now embarking on a new journey of exploration and discovery. Our success depends on our willingness as a people to undertake this journey and to complete it within 10 years. Once again, we have an opportunity to take a giant leap for humankind.

Children Grow Healthier After Coal Plant Shut

Associated Press in Bangkok – Updated on Jul 16, 2008 – SCMP

Children born after the closure of a coal-burning plant on the mainland had 60 per cent fewer developmental problems, a new American study says, giving ammunition to those who argue the nation should embrace cleaner sources of energy.

The study in the peer-reviewed Environmental Health Perspectives journal found that after the coal plant was shut in Tongliang, northwest of Chongqing , pregnant mothers living in the area had far less exposure to pollutants. Their children showed significantly fewer delays in developing motor skills, such as muscle co-ordination, by the age of two.

“This study provides direct evidence that the Chinese government’s action to shut down a polluting power plant had measurable benefits on the development of children,” said Frederica Perera, lead author of the study and director of the Columbia Centre for Children’s Environmental Health in New York.

“These findings have major implications for environmental health and energy policy in China and elsewhere.”

The study tested the development of two groups of about 100 children, one group born before the Tongliang coal plant’s closure in 2004 and the other born after it was shut.

Barbara Finamore – director of the Natural Resources Defence Council’s China programme, whose group helped researchers identify a site – said she hoped the findings would persuade authorities to weigh the affordability of coal against the health costs.

“Coal is much cheaper than the alternatives. But when you factor in the cost of coal to children’s health, it changes the equation,” she said.

“With the one-child policy, children are one of China’s most precious resources. They cannot afford to be raising a new generation of children with serious developmental difficulties.”

But Peter Sly, who heads the World Health Organisation’s Collaborating Centre for Research on Children’s Environmental Health and is based in Australia, was more cautious about the findings.

He said it was an interesting study that showed how reducing exposure to pollutants during gestation could improve health outcomes for children, especially brain development. But he said the results did not have implications for “modern, coal-fired power stations” on the mainland.

The Tongliang coal plant did not have pollution control equipment to limit the emission of toxins that typically include carbon dioxide, sulfur dioxide, nitrogen oxide and particulate matter.

“My personal opinion is that modern power stations may be better, but we don’t know how much better,” said Mr Sly.

The mainland relies on coal for three-quarters of its electricity and has been slow to switch to cleaner options such as wind, solar and hydropower.

The study found that mothers living near the coal-fired plant breathed in polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, which are produced when coal is burned, and were passed on to each baby through the mother’s placenta. Researchers tested the levels of polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons in the fetal umbilical cord blood of the children in the two groups.

Researchers found the group that was born after the power plant had closed had 40 per cent lower levels of the contaminant in the cord blood.

Small Power Plants Shut Down

Power companies shut down 8.36GW of polluting plants

Mainland power companies shut down 8.36 gigawatts of smaller power plants in the first half, or 64.3 per cent of the government’s target for the year, the National Development and Reform Commission said. This brings total shutdowns since the start of 2006 to 25.87GW, or 51.74 per cent of the 50GW target for 2006 to 2010. The plants are coal- and oil-fired units. The move will cut 550,000 tonnes of sulphur dioxide emission annually.

Eric Ng – SCMP

Economy More Energy Efficient

Economy more energy efficient, says report

Shi Jiangtao in Beijing – Updated on Jul 15, 2008 – SCMP

Beijing has revised the mainland’s energy-efficiency figure for last year, saying the economy wasted less energy than previously calculated.

Energy usage per unit of gross domestic product was reduced 3.66 per cent – instead of the initial figure of 3.27 per cent – according to a report jointly released by the National Bureau of Statistics, the National Development and Reform Commission and the National Energy Bureau.

However, the revised figure still falls short of the national target to reduce energy consumption per unit of GDP by 4 per cent a year by 2010, based on 2005 figures.

The report said the mainland consumed 1.16 tonnes of standard coal equivalent to produce 10,000 yuan (HK$11,440) of GDP last year, compared with 1.204 tonnes of coal equivalent in 2006 and 1.226 in 2005. The revision was made after a recent national survey in the agricultural sector, it added.

While 21 provinces and municipalities hit the 4 per cent target last year, nine provinces – including Guangdong, Guangxi , Fujian , Hunan and Xinjiang – failed.

Beijing reduced its energy consumption per unit of GDP by 6 per cent, the biggest cut on the mainland.

Hainan managed to cut its energy use by only 0.8 per cent, and the remote western province of Qinghai saw a 2.2 per cent decrease. The report did not cover Tibet , Hong Kong, Macau or Taiwan.

Premier Wen Jiabao vowed at a National People’s Congress session two years ago that by 2010, the mainland would cut energy use by 20 per cent and reduce air pollution by 10 per cent, but it has failed for the past two years.

PetroChina To Sell Stake

Bloomberg in Beijing – Updated on Jul 12, 2008

PetroChina, the world’s second-biggest company by market value, may sell its 50 per cent stake in the mainland’s biggest developer of coal-bed methane.

“The transaction may be announced in one month or two or even within days,” Sun Maoyuan, the chairman of China United Coalbed Methane Corp, said yesterday.

The move was aimed at improving decision-making at China United, Mr Sun said, without giving financial details.

PetroChina will sell the stake to China National Coal Group, which owns the remaining 50 per cent of China United, according to Fu Xiaokang, a deputy director of international co-operation at the gas firm.

PetroChina spokesman Mao Zefeng was not available for comment.

Beijing-based China United Coalbed used to have the sole right to enter ventures with foreign firms, based on a 2001 regulation, to develop gas trapped in coal seams. The government issued new rules in September to allow more local explorers to work with overseas partners.

The mainland aims to boost the share of energy produced from natural gas to 5.3 per cent by 2010 from about 3 per cent now to cut pollution and reduce reliance on coal and oil.

More on For IPO news, listed company reports, announcements and press releases, go to our new investor relations website.

For PetroChina, go to

Roof Gardens A Cool Way To Save Energy

A well-planned patch can lower internal building temperatures by as much as four or five degrees

Elizabeth Horscroft – SCMP – Updated on Jul 09, 2008

Hong Kong is getting hotter, and not just during the sweltering summer months. The urban landscape with its closely packed high-rises and limited open space is trapping heat and restricting airflow, with the result that average ambient temperatures are edging up.

That creates more energy consumption, ostensibly to achieve cooling, but instead contributing more to the underlying problem. “Flats have become warmer due to their compact nature,” said Yuguo Li, a professor at the University of Hong Kong’s department of mechanical engineering. “[They are] good for trapping heat, but not for releasing it.”

Furthermore, the canyon effect created by skyscrapers, narrow streets and concrete surfaces, means that solar radiation is absorbed more readily, adding to the rise in temperature indoors and out. Most buildings are not designed to make the most of natural ventilation, so opening a window often does little to cool a room or apartment, even at night.

Recent infrared images show that some buildings in Central, particularly those with dark surfaces and glass facades register temperatures reaching 40 degrees Celsius. This is one of the most obvious manifestations of a phenomenon known as the “urban heat island”, which is now evident in many cities and is becoming a subject of increasing academic study.

In a 2006 research paper entitled Benefits and Potential Applications of Green Roof Systems in Hong Kong, Sam Hui of the University of Hong Kong’s department of mechanical engineering addressed the topic. He pointed out how, in summer, the urban heat island increased the use of energy for cooling and accelerated the formation of urban smog. Dr Hui traced the problem mainly to the lack of vegetation and high absorption of solar radiation.

Several measures are recommended to mitigate these factors. Hong Kong needs more natural vegetation and open areas. And each of us can play a part by lobbying for change on a wider scale or simply starting our own garden on a roof or balcony.

Craig Doubleday, a director of landscape design firm Urbis, explained one of the most tangible benefits of a roof garden. “Research in Singapore shows a net annual saving of 15 per cent for air-conditioning costs. And research in China has shown a reduction of two degrees Celsius for internal room temperatures.” He said that other studies indicated a well-planned roof garden could lower internal building temperatures by as much as four or five degrees.

There was also scope for plants to mask other external surfaces and they could be grown on balconies to contribute significantly to the overall cooling effect. Green roofs work through the evapotranspiration process. This means that plants do what they always do – they absorb the sun’s rays and release oxygen into the atmosphere after photosynthesis.

The good news is that developers are gradually awakening to the wonders of nature and have been spurred by the realisation that a roof garden can add value to a building. “[Roof gardens] are setting a trend in the industry … and are viewed as highly favourable in new developments [because they] increase the attractiveness and value of new properties,” Mr Doubleday said.

Developers like the fact that a green roof reduces energy costs and extends the life of the roof. This quickly translates into savings on maintenance and structural upkeep. Dr Hui said: “An additional benefit is biodiversity. Roof gardens attract insects and birds to urban areas.”

The design of a roof garden depends on taste, practicality and structural loading. Integrated green roofs, which go well beyond the simple positioning and cultivation of potted plants, fall into three main categories. The extensive type requires low maintenance and consists mostly of self-generative plants such as moss.

The semi-intensive type needs a sturdier structure to support the weight of the additional drainage systems, soil and insulation necessary to allow plants such as herbaceous perennials, lavender or grass to grow successfully. The intensive type is the most expensive and difficult to maintain. This type can include trees, bushes and ornamental plants and, depending on the space available, can even be designed to incorporate ponds, benches and winding paths.

Mr Doubleday said that most people should stick to using containerised or potted plants. Bamboo and palms give the maximum greening effect, with minimal need for maintenance or changes of soil, and they provide a noticeable cooling effect. “But remember large pots filled with soil and plants can impose a significant load on the [structure],” he said.

“I have seen instances where three large pots were placed on the balcony of an office building. The loading [was] affected to such an extent that the doors to the balcony in the unit below could not open.”

An integrated roof garden with the need for soil, drainage and irrigation systems requires careful planning and expert engineering advice, particularly if it is installed long after the construction of the building. “Most existing roofs and balconies were designed only to take specific live loads,” Mr Doubleday said.

Individuals or residents’ committees thinking of “going it alone” with a roof garden should, therefore, consider loading issues, drainage, water supply and access for maintenance.

Sufficient thought should also be given to sunlight and the prevailing wind direction, the aspect and possible pollution in selecting the most appropriate plant species.

Costs are variable, but it is especially important to remember that semi-intensive and intensive roof gardens will require retrofitting additional waterproofing and drainage to an existing roof, which can be expensive.

Derek Townshend, a senior landscape architect at Urbis, estimated that the cost of setting up a roof garden with trees, shrubs, a few benches and “decent looking containers” would be between HK$1,200 and HK$1,500 per square metre for a private individual paying retail prices. “The cost of providing potted plants for a roof or balcony is relatively minimal, with a medium-sized ornamental pot, soil and plant starting at around HK$400 each,” he said.

Fixed costs would include water, electricity and equipment, and Mr Townshend put these at roughly HK$7 per square metre per year. Other than that, any expenditure on upkeep would depend largely on the type of plants chosen and how much you enjoy gardening.

Dr Hui said it would be money well spent. “Compared with a conventional bare roof structure, an extensive green roof system would cost two to five times more for the initial investment,” he said.

“However, if planned and designed properly, green roofs could be less expensive than tiled roofs in the long run and provide many other tangible and intangible benefits to building owners,” Dr Hui said.

We Must Act On Light Pollution

Updated on Jul 08, 2008 – SCMP

Light pollution has become one of the biggest concerns for scientists and environmentalists. Hong Kong has glittering neon billboards and glaring domestic lights.

This is an issue which concerns us all.

Excessive illumination means that a lot of energy is being wasted and this is a form of pollution. Such a rapid depletion of energy sources brings us a step closer to having an energy crisis. This is a global issue and it should not just concern environmentalists. We should all be worried about what is happening.

We can deal with this problem by utilising light sources more effectively. More than 70 per cent of the lighting in Hong Kong is not used appropriately, because we have developed bad habits. In our flats we leave a light on when nobody is in the room.

Also the government uses high pressure sodium lamps which makes things worse. Just switching off a light when it is not needed can help.

The government can also play a vital role in assisting the public to limit the amount of light used by passing an ordinance controlling the use of illumination systems. For example, the neon advertisements should be dimmed to soft lights after 10pm and any violation of this law should lead to a fine.

This change in the law should be undertaken as soon as possible so that wastage of energy is reduced to a minimum.

It is no easy task to solve our pollution problems, but we must act as soon as possible. We must all try to do our bit and help, for the sake of our planet.

Shirley Kong, Kwai Chung

Factories Hit By Power Shortages

Carol Chan – Updated on Jul 08, 2008 – SCMP

The mainland is again experiencing power shortages at the beginning of the peak summer season and some regions have forced high energy consuming factories to halt or reduce production temporarily.

Aluminum Corp of China (Chalco), the mainland’s biggest alumina and aluminium producer, has halted some production at its plants in Shanxi province, where the authorities have issued a “red” warning on power supplies.

Power for energy-intensive and polluting factories in the region would be limited, and priority given to agricultural and residential users, the State Electricity Regulatory Commission said in a newsletter yesterday.

The extent of the power shortage in Shanxi, the country’s largest coal-producing province, reached 4,647 megawatts on June 26, the commission said.

“There is limited power availability [in Shanxi] because of tight coal supplies. So far, the impact has been minimal,” said Chalco investor relations manager Zhang Qing.

Chalco has two smelters in the province with a combined capacity of 500,000 tonnes of primary aluminium a year. Ms Zhang did not quantify the impact and said plants in other provinces had not encountered similar situations.

Mainland newspapers said Zhengzhou, Henan province, was also rationing power and that mining companies and big industrial users would be the main targets.

Industrial users were targeted for power rationing in times of shortage because they accounted for about 70 per cent of the country’s electricity consumption, said Guotai Junan Securities analyst Martin Wang.

Mr Wang said the situation was expected to worsen next month and in September as temperatures increased.

The mainland is experiencing its sixth year of power shortages. This year’s summer power shortfall would reach 16 gigawatts, the China Daily reported on July 1, citing the electricity regulator.

Reasons for the power and coal shortages include slower growth in fixed-asset investment in the coal industry, and measures by Beijing to temporarily cap thermal coal prices from June 19.

Mr Wang said the growth rate of fixed-asset investments in the coal industry slowed to about 5 per cent in February last year from about 49 per cent in June 2006.

“From investment to production, it takes two to three years. That’s why coal supplies are unable to keep up with growth in demand,” he said.

Sea Wave Power Plants in China

Israeli Energy Company to Build Sea Wave Power Plants in China

By: iStockAnalyst Tuesday, July 08, 2008 6:51 AM

Contact: For further details, please contact Mr. Aaron Bezalel, the Marketing Director of SDE Ltd., on the following phone numbers: Office:+972-3-7397107. Cell: +972-52-3353074.

TEL AVIV, Israel, July 8 /PRNewswire/ — Energy company, S.D.E., which has developed an innovative technology for generating sea wave electricity, has signed an agreement for selling sea wave power plants throughout China. Construction of the power plants will be financed by investors from Hong Kong and China.

Two joint venture companies, formed in Hong Kong by S.D.E and the investors for the implementation of the agreement, will build an initial model in Guangzhou province in southern China. In the event the model proves to be successful, they will launch the establishment of sea wave power plants throughout China. The process is subject to the approval of the Government of China, which is meant to purchase the entire quantity of electricity generated.

The Agreement was signed in Hong Kong last week by S.D.E.’s Managing Director, Mr. Shmuel Ovadia and advocate Yossi Abadi from the law firm of Ram Caspi.

The innovative technology of generating power from sea waves is becoming increasingly attractive, as fuel prices rockets and demand for clean, green energy is growing. The method has several advantages: high utility, lack of environmental pollution and a relatively low cost for construction and generation of electricity.

Electricity shortages in China are worsening every day and current sources of energy are problematic: nuclear power plants and hydroelectric stations are highly susceptible to earthquake damage; the country is hit by more than 4 typhoons a year, making the building of wind farms extremely difficult, and solar systems are not cost effective.

Additionally, generation of electricity through burning of fossil fuels increases the country’s already intolerable levels of air and environmental pollution.

The S.D.E system, which produces renewable and clean energy from sea waves, is the perfect alternative solution. Sea waves have the potential to supply 4 times more energy per square meter than wind, and could supply 500 times more than the electricity requirements of the whole world population, offering a solution to the severe global shortage of electricity that is estimated to be costing billions of dollars.

The huge advantages in the SDE method for producing electricity from sea waves have been identified by many countries and currently, the company is working to apply the sea wave power technology in their territories by attaching the franchise for selling electricity to the financers in order to achieve funding for the project.

For further details, please contact Mr. Aaron Bezalel, the Marketing Director of SDE Ltd., on the following phone numbers:

Office:+972-3-7397107. Cell: +972-52-3353074.