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Use Of Natural Gas Must Balance Reliance On Fossil Fuels

Green group says use of natural gas must balance reliance on fossil fuels

Ng Kang-chung – Updated on Sep 12, 2008

Green groups have urged CLP Power to continue investing in renewable energy in Hong Kong and want rules imposed that would require natural gas to account for at least half of the fuel mix for power generation.

Friends of the Earth environmental affairs officer Angus Wong Chun-yin described CLP Power’s decision to drop its plans for a liquefied natural gas terminal on South Soko Island as “natural and sensible”.

“Now the Chinese government has promised a stable supply of natural gas. There is no need for CLP to continue the Soko Islands project,” said Mr Wong, referring to a power supply deal struck last month between Hong Kong and Beijing.

He added: “Dropping the Soko Islands project should not be the end of the story. The Hong Kong government should press harder to require power companies to use more natural gas to generate power.”

At present, coal accounts for about 60 per cent of CLP Power’s fuel mix, with natural gas and nuclear power at 20 per cent each.

Coal burned by power plants has been blamed as a major source of air pollution in Hong Kong. Carbon dioxide emissions could be reduced by half and sulfur dioxide by more than 90 per cent if liquefied natural gas was used to generate power, environmental officials said.

Mr Wong said the fuel mix should be set at 50 per cent natural gas.

Green Sense chairman Roy Tam Hoi-pong offered similar views.

“Dropping the Soko Islands plan means more than reducing the need to raise power fees. The government should look at it from an air quality viewpoint and ask CLP to develop renewable energy, say, wind energy.”

Using more natural gas might still push tariffs up because of higher costs, but Mr Wong and Mr Tam said social benefits could offset the costs.

Hong Kong and Beijing struck an energy agreement last month under which state-owned supplier China National Offshore Oil Corporation will continue to supply Hong Kong with natural gas for another 20 years.

Hong Kong will also receive gas from the country’s second west-east pipeline, which is being built to transport gas from Central Asia to the Pearl and Yangtze River Delta regions.

The pipeline is expected to reach Shenzhen in about five years. Hong Kong officials have estimated the city would receive about 1 billion cubic metres of gas a year from this source.

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