Case study of energy infrastructure: Hong Kong

By Matt Burdett, 26 February 2019

On this page, we look at Hong Kong as a case study of infrastructure growth over time in one city. This page is part of a series on Hong Kong’s infrastructure that includes international links, transport, telecommunications, energy and water and sanitation.

  • Lamma Power Station, Hong Kong, is built almost out of sight, hidden on the opposite side of a hill from the populated areas of the territory. Almost all of Hong Kong’s energy is imported from abroad, either directly as electricity or as fuel to be burned in one of the few power stations.

Energy in Hong Kong

Hong Kong’s energy is mainly supplied by two companies: CLP Power (founded 1901), and HK Electric (founded 1889). Each company has a geographical area that is supplies. CLP provides power to Kowloon and the New Territories, while HK Electric supplies Hong Kong Island and two nearby islands (Environment Bureau, 2008).

The two companies use non-renewable energy sources to produce most of their network electricity capacity, as shown in the table below. Even the ‘pumped storage’ hydroelectric power is not truly renewable, because it relies on water being pumped up to high altitudes while energy use is relatively low, then being released through downhill pipes to create electricity during times of high demand, before being pumped back up to the top. It is therefore only used as a means of topping up the supply during periods of high demand.

Fuel

Percentage of installed capacity

Coal

52

Oil

10

Natural gas

22

Nuclear energy

11

Pumped storage (hydroelectric)

5

However, not all these sources create energy within Hong Kong itself. For example, all the nuclear power is brought from the Daya Bay Nuclear Power Station in mainland China which was opened in 1993 (Gov.HK, 2015). None of the energy used by the territory comes from sources within Hong Kong at all. The amount of energy required by Hong Kong has been steadily increasing for several years, with most of the increase coming from more use of imported coal (see graph below).

Energy generation in Hong Kong: non-renewable source infrastructure

There are several power stations within Hong Kong.

Power station

Location

Details

Lamma Power Station

Po Lo Tsui, Lamma Island (near Hong Kong Island)

Commissioned 1982.

Combination of coal-fired and gas-fired turbines.

Provides electricity for 570,000 customers on Hong Kong Island and Lamma Island.

Black Point Power Station

New Territories

Built in phases from 1996 to 2006.

First natural-gas fuelled power station in Hong Kong.

Penny’s Bay Power Station

Lantau Island, New Territories

Commissioned 1992.

Three gas-fuelled turbines.

Castle Peak Power Station

Tuen Mun, New Territories

Commissioned 1980.

Includes Emissions Control Project since 2011 to limit sulphur dioxide and nitrogen oxide.

Energy generation in Hong Kong: renewable source infrastructure

The contribution of renewable energy sources to electricity generation in Hong Kong remains very small indeed. The Hong Kong government has made efforts to implement more renewable energy schemes but these are generally very small scale (Gov.HK, 2018) and not practical for scaling up to be a major source of Hong Kong’s energy in the future.

Lamma Winds

Opened in 2006, this is a small addition to the Lamma Power Station. There is just one wind turbine of 71m in height. Although it gains a lot of attention it contributes a tiny amount of energy, as shown in the chart below. However, the main point of the turbine was to examine how this source of energy could be utilized in Hong Kong (Discover Hong Kong, 2019). Since it was built, there have been no other wind-farm projects in Hong Kong.

Energy source used at Lamma Power Station

Potential kilowatt output

Wind

800

Solar

1000

Combined cycle units

680000

Gas

555500

Coal

2000000

T-Park

  • Part of the interior the T-Park waste management, water treatment and energy generation facility.

T-Park was opened in 2016. T-Park is a small-scale waste management, water treatment and electricity generation facility located in the New Territories near Tuen Mun. It can produce up to 2000 kilowatts of power, enough to supply 4000 households with electricity. Although it has only a minor output of power, it is a major project because the electricity generation is a result of the processing of up to 2000 tonnes of sludge (a by product of sewage treatment) per day. This is enough to process the entire output of sludge from Hong Kong and therefore support the overall improvement in sustainability in Hong Kong (T-Park, 2019).

Energy in Hong Kong: transmission infrastructure

The CLP Power company owns and operates the transmission infrastructure that carries electricity to homes and businesses across the New Territories. The map below shows the distribution network.

On Hong Kong Island, the metrics of the network are similar. However, owing to the mountainous terrain of the island and the lack of available space to bury underground cables, HK Electric uses a series of cable tunnels. These tunnels are dug through the mountains and are large enough to drive a small car from one end to the other – which is essential as part of the maintenance of the cables. Another reason for the cable tunnels is to provide a secure supply in the event of major storms. Hong Kong receives regular typhoons (the same weather system as a hurricane, but generally on a smaller scale) (HK Electric, 2015b).

The first tunnel was created in 1988, with another in 1993 and since then four more have been built, as shown on the map below.

Hong Kong: A low-energy city?

Even with such a well developed infrastructure, Hong Kong uses very little energy on a per capita basis. In fact, it is only just above the world average for energy use.

There are several reasons for Hong Kong’s low energy use per capita:

  • Most of the population do not own or use cars; public transport is extremely efficient (see “Case study of transport infrastructure: Hong Kong”)
  • The dense population of the territory means most people have short distances to travel between home and work, reducing the energy required to transport them
  • In general, homes are extremely small with an average living space of less than 700 square feet (65 square metres) (Ng, 2018), so there is less space to light up, cool down and so on
  • Owing to the high cost of accommodation, relatively few people live alone – most live with families and therefore share cooking, living spaces and so on


Sources

Census and Statistics Department [Hong Kong Special Administrative Region], 2018. Hong Kong Energy Statistics: 2017 Annual Report. https://www.censtatd.gov.hk/hkstat/sub/sp90.jsp?productCode=B1100002 Accessed 26 February 2019.

Department of Physics, The Chinese University of Hong Kong, 2000. Electricity Generation and Transmission in Hong Kong. http://www.hk-phy.org/energy/power/print/elect_is_print_e.html Accessed 26 February 2019.

Discover Hong Kong, 2019. Lamma Winds. http://www.discoverhongkong.com/eng/see-do/great-outdoors/outlying-islands/lamma-island/lamma-winds.jsp Accessed 26 February 2019.

Environment Bureau, 2007. Policy Responsibilities: Energy Supplies. https://www.enb.gov.hk/en/about_us/policy_responsibilities/energy.html Accessed 26 February 2019.

Gov.HK, 2015. Hong Kong: The Facts – Water, Power and Gas Supplies. https://www.gov.hk/en/about/abouthk/factsheets/docs/wp&g_supplies.pdf Accessed 26 February 2019.

GovHK, 2018. Renewable Energy. https://www.gov.hk/en/residents/environment/energy/renewableenergy.htm Accessed 26 February 2019.

HK Electric, 2014. Cable tunnels. https://www.hkelectric.com/en/OurOperations/OurOperation_TND/Documents/tunnel%20fact%20sheet%202014.pdf Accessed 26 February 2019.

HK Electric, 2015. Electricity Generation. https://www.hkelectric.com/en/our-operations/electricity-generation Accessed 26 February 2019.

HK Electric, 2015b. Transmission & Distribution. https://www.hkelectric.com/en/our-operations/transmission-distribution Accessed 26 February 2019.

Ng, 2018. LCQ15: Improving average living floor area per person. https://www.info.gov.hk/gia/general/201806/20/P2018062000367.htm Accessed 26 February 2019.

T-Park, 2019. What is Sludge? https://www.tpark.hk/en/story/ Accessed 26 February 2019.


Case study of energy infrastructure: Hong Kong: Learning activities

Questions

  1. Describe the mixture of energy sources used in Hong Kong. [2]
  2. Outline the balance between non-renewable and renewable energy infrastructure in Hong Kong. [4]
  3. Suggest and explain two reasons why Hong Kong uses mostly imported energy sources. [4]
  4. Describe the transmission infrastructure for Hong Kong’s energy on Hong Kong Island compared to Kowloon and the New Territories. [3]
  5. Explain why Hong Kong’s energy use is relatively low compared to other highly economically developed locations. [4]

Other tasks

Read the Hong Kong government’s page on renewable energy. Using the information on this page, your own knowledge and research, write to the Hong Kong government to suggest what it could do to improve the sustainability of its energy supplies even further. You may like to start by researching the potential for offshore wind farms.


© Matthew Burdett, 2019. All rights reserved.

All secondary material on this site is clearly referenced and may be subject to copyright restrictions by the original authors. All original material on this page is subject to copyright.