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Inventor Aims To Generate His Own Power

Dan Kadison, SCMP – Jun 21, 2009

Lucien Gambarota wants to go off the grid – the electrical grid, that is.
In the next couple of months, the local inventor will use alternative energy technologies to try to generate all of the electricity needed for his new Kowloon headquarters.

“My target is simple. I want to pay zero dollars to CLP, because if I pay zero dollars that means I am carbon free,” Mr Gambarota said.

The 51-year-old made the announcement during the opening of his new Wai Yip Street, Kwun Tong, workshop yesterday. There, in the nearly 8,000 sq ft space, he told dozens of guests that he had already been able to cut his carbon footprint by 88 per cent.

“This place here was using … 250 kilowatt-hours a year per square metre – and there is nothing wrong with that. This is the average in Hong Kong,” said Mr Gambarota, the founder of the MotorWave Group, a renewable energy company.

But he is in an environmentally friendly industry, and he wanted to do better. He and his workers added insulation, switched to compact fluorescent lighting and removed the air conditioning units. They “gutted, cancelled, deleted, changed, modified” everything they could, he said.

Now, “we are down to 40 [kilowatt-hours a year per square metre],” Mr Gambarota said to applause. The space was “releasing something like … 70 tonnes of [carbon dioxide] a year … now we release 8.2 tonnes.”

The difference translates to savings of more than HK$85,000 a year, but Mr Gambarota isn’t content with annual electricity costs of HK$12,000.

He plans to go up to the roof and install solar and wind energy equipment, including his own special brand of wind turbines, to see if he can produce all of his own electricity.
“Can we do it? I’ll tell you in two months. But we’ll be very, very close to that,” he said. “And why is it important? Because, most probably, we’ll be the first factory in the world to have such a low carbon print.”

Guests at Mr Gambarota’s workshop yesterday included Civic Party vice-chairman Albert Lai Kwong-tak; Civic Party legislators Audrey Eu Yuet-mee and Alan Leong Kah-kit; Carbon Care Asia chairman Chong Chan-yau; Alfred Sit Wing-hang, assistant director of the Electrical and Mechanical Services Department; and Danny Ngai Kam-fai, vice-president of the Chinese Manufacturers’ Association and a shareholder in Mr Gambarota’s company.

Mr Leong, whose Civic Party has proposed a “green New Deal” job creation plan, said he supported the inventor’s efforts. “The whole Legislative Council supports redefining our supplies and demands in a new economy,” Mr Leong said. “So I think I’m in the right place today to witness how Hong Kong industrialists, Hong Kong industries, [are] doing something towards that goal.”

Mr Lai also issued a challenge to Mr Gambarota: generate additional electricity and feed it back into the grid. “We will work together,” Mr Lai told the inventor. “We will work on the policy side, and you will work on the technology side to make sure this workshop actually produces energy and not just consumes it.”

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