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A Sensible Government Would Say No To Expensive Wind Farm

SCMP – Updated on Jun 09, 2009

There has been a mixed reaction to CLP Power’s proposed erection of 67 wind turbines 135 metres high off Sai Kung.

Greenpeace said it regarded the project as a milestone for Hong Kong, though added it was a bit late compared to what has been achieved in China and Europe (“Cautious welcome for wind farm”, June 4). But the proposed scheme should be assessed on its merits and whether it can practically augment existing power supplies. Having wind turbines for the sake of establishing a milestone or success in other places can hardly be a sensible reason for their installation.

While WWF Hong Kong was concerned that the proposed wind farm would be in the flight path of migrating birds and adversely affect marine life, the Association for Geoconservation feared the wind farm would kill off the proposed geopark, because of its visual impact. Some aspects of this proposal are very clear.

The mega wind farm might cost as much as HK$2.8 billion and supply only 0.7 per cent of the city’s electricity needs. Under the proposed electricity market reform, investment in renewable energy would be rewarded with a permitted return of up to 11 per cent, according to a report in the South China Morning Post in 2006 (“Wind farm may blow more than it’s worth”). So, if the wind farm is allowed to go ahead, consumers will have to foot the bill for CLP Power’s capital expenditure and that will mean a necessary rise in the electricity tariff.

The power output from the farm – of less than 1 per cent of the city’s electricity demand – could be offset by electricity saved by simply switching off lights, appliances and equipment when not in use. This can be easily done at no cost and is environmentally most sensible. This consideration alone will surely render the proposed 200-megawatt wind farm absolutely superfluous to the city’s power requirements. Clearly, CLP Power’s proposed wind farm was never considered to benefit the city or our environment to begin with, other than the permitted return. A sensible government would certainly say no to this project.

Alex Tam, Sai Kung

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