Powering Hong Kong with offshore wind
| Policy Research and Advocacy Team, Friends of the Earth (HK)
In the latest climate news, the NOAA
recently reported that carbon dioxide levels are now more than 50% higher than
in the pre-industrial era.The race to transition from fossil fuels and decarbonise our energy use is more
important than ever before as we hurtle towards climate catastrophe.
NOAA's CO2 measurement at Mauna Loa Observatory (Image source: The Guardian)
Luckily, we have an abundance of
renewable energy reserves in the world. The Earth has more than enough wind
resources alone to meet more than 10 times our energy demands today.Wind farms in the ocean in particular is picking up interest in recent years. After
all, offshore wind speeds are faster and more consistent than on land and you
don’t need to deal with as much nimbyism ("not in my backyard”).
Triton Knoll, one of the world’s
largest offshore wind farm, is slated to enter into operation this year to
supply 857 MW of power.In China, the 802 MW Jiangsu Qidong just
went into operation in December 2021.
Triton Knoll Offshore Windfarm off the coast of Lincolnshire (Image
source: Triton Knoll)
While the cost of offshore wind
energy is still higher than its onshore counterparts, the price is expected to
come down with growing maturity, increasing competitiveness, technological
advancements and more.
Estimates of future levelized costs
for wind energy (Image source: Berkeley Lab)
For example, advances in material
design are enabling offshore wind turbines to capture more energy and better
withstand the harsh marine environment. New innovations like floating wind
turbines opened up the deep waters as viable locations for wind farms and
reduced the environmental impact of installation. The digitalisation of the
industry is also benefiting offshore wind energy production by anticipating
failures and planning maintenance to increase the uptime of farms.
Digital applications and technologies
in wind farm
What about here in Hong Kong? As a
coastal city, we have easy access to the ocean and the wealth of wind energy.
Study findings believe that the offshore wind potential in Hong Kong can supply
around one-third of the city’s electricity use.
Spatial distribution of annual mean
wind speed (Vm)
But since the first wind turbine
installed on Lamma Island in 2006, local wind energy development has not progressed
much. In fact, in the latest white paper, "Hong Kong’s Climate Action Plan
2050”, the government only aims to increase the share of renewable energy in
the fuel mix to 15% before 2050—a far less ambitious target than other cities.
There is some good news however. Both
HK Electric and CLP Power revealed plans to build offshore wind farms rated at
150 MW and 250 MW respectively.This is, of course, far from what Hong Kong needs to decarbonise. In addition
to realising the local wind potential, the government should work with the
Greater Bay Area on offshore wind energy development. Bolder actions are needed
if Hong Kong is to become carbon neutral by 2050.