Time-sensitive power rates in smart study

Authorities are mulling charging different electricity tariffs at different hours of the day while widely adopting smart meters to help conserve energy, says Secretary for the Environment Wong Kam-sing.

The government, as stated in the policy address, is targeting to reduce electricity consumption in commercial buildings by 30 to 40 percent from the 2015 level by the year 2050 and reducing by 20 to 30 percent in residential buildings 29 years from now.

Wong said on a radio program yesterday the government will utilize smart technology to reach the goals, such as replacing all electricity meters in residential and commercial buildings with smart meters in the coming few years. Data collected through the new meters can provide a better understanding of how each building can reduce electricity. As of now 40 percent of meters have been upgraded to smart.

“Within these few years, it is a good time for Hong Kong to discuss how to utilize the smart meters to promote everyone save electricity and see if charging electricity [at a different rate] in different periods [is possible].”

The public is encouraged to reduce electricity consumption through subsidy schemes offered by local power companies that aim to save electricity in buildings.

The government has been “leading by example” – having set a target to reduce the electricity consumption at government premises by 5 percent in the past five years.

The government will raise the target of reduction to another 6 percent in the coming five years after managing to cut electricity consumption by more than 7 percent – 2 percent more than the target – in the past five years.

Big bodies, such as the Airport Authority and Hospital Authority, as well as major property developers will be asked to set goals in saving electricity, supporting renewable energy and popularizing electric vehicles, Wong said.

Under the policy address, the government targets to stop using coal for daily electricity generation by 2035. The use of coal will be replaced by alternatives such as natural gas and renewable energy.

“A proactive aim is necessary as climate change is here, extreme weather has taken place around the globe, including Hong Kong,” Wong said.

He said the government will find a replacement for using coal to generate electricity and is prepared to increase the electricity generation of natural gas. The government has permitted the construction of an offshore liquefied natural gas terminal so Hong Kong can procure natural gas from various regions.

At the moment, using natural gas to generate electricity has increased from around 20 percent to close to 50 percent.

The use of renewable energy to generate electricity will be raised to around 7.5 to 10 percent in 2035, from the current less than 1 percent.

Wong said two power companies, without revealing their names, are studying to build wind power stations in the sea in the south of Lamma Island and in the east of Sai Kung.

Wong also said the Northern Metropolis in the New Territories will be developed in line with the carbon neutrality target. “The government will adopt a more proactive policy, including reclaiming wetlands and fishponds that are worth preserving, to increase their ecological capacity,” he said.

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