POWER TO THE PEO PLE
Just five years ago, Hong Kong’s power plants, which are fired by coal and natural gas, were its greatest source of the air pollutants sulphur dioxide and nitrogen oxides. Since then, emissions have plummeted even as electricity consumption has risen, after the government imposed decreasing annual caps on the plants’ emissions from 2008. To meet the targets, electricity companies fitted a range of “scrubber” technologies that have cut the plants’ output of harmful chemicals and particles. The only way to clean up power generation further, says Loh, is to change the fuel mix, to which coal contributes 53 per cent at present. “We are now looking at reducing coal for local electricity generation as a matter of policy,” she says, and the government plans to completely phase out coal-generated electricity. There are two options on the table: replacing coal generation with hydropower imported from the mainland, and phasing out coal in favour of natural gas for local generation. Increasing energy efficiency, as discussed later under urban planning, is also a key factor in further reducing emissions.