香港熱不可耐,太陽能不能

【意見交流園地】馮健鏗 Ryan Fung

偽命題,就是要在「有氣水」(Sparkling Water)和「蒸餾水」(Distilled Water)之中 2 選 1,卻沒有想過其他更好的選擇。香港政府推動發電的能源如是,一直推銷的所謂「淨零發電」,其實不夠綠(當中隱含核能),沒有告訴外界香港並不重視「可再生能源」,這在未來能源組合中只是微乎其微的佔比,似乎無心戀戰。

發電是香港最大的溫室氣體排放來源。長遠來說,香港必須徹底淘汰化石燃料,擁抱可再生能源,而非核電和天然氣,達至真正的碳中和,讓香港與國際接軌。加上面對香港人口持續增長,對電力的需求亦相應提升,但仍未見香港急起直追,可再生能源佔日常發電比率不足 3%,遠低於內地的 29.8%。

根據內地外國的經驗顯示,政府提供支持性政策,幫助推動可再生能源的使用和發展。不少城市和地區均會在發展可再生能源初期,提供研發補助,降低使用再生能源的成本;進而提供稅務優惠、電費差額補貼等,擴大可再生能源的使用量。

以中國為例,經過多年來的政策補貼,如自 2013 年發表「關於促進光伏產業健康發展的若干意見」,從價格、財政補貼、稅收、項目管理和併網管理等多方面,帶動整個可再新能源產業壯大發展,甚至在太陽能業問鼎全球最強地位

事實上,早前香港的氣候倡議組織「日出社區」也表示,如在天台、水塘及閒置土地上都安裝太陽能板,估計至 2030 年最高可滿足本港電力需求的 21%,評估本港潛力一定不止 3% 至 4%。

雖然政府已於 2018 年與 2 間電力公司引入上網電價,推動太陽能發電系統的發展,但之前也提過,在綠色能源未竟全功之際,政府就削減上網電價,可謂逆行倒施,打擊市民支持可再生能源的意欲。

相反,要鼓勵使用再生能源,政府應考慮延長計劃的時效。目前,有關計劃將於 2033 年底完結,但太陽能發電系統的投資成本高,若安裝數年後便要拆除,會令不少有意者卻步。

除此以外,為更有效的推動可再生能源,大概是政府需在政策上提供更大的便利,讓更多企業願意興建更具效益的大型太陽能發電系統,包括:

  1. 取消發電容量 1 兆瓦的上限,以鼓勵發展更多大型太陽能項目,提升效率。
  2. 以創新思維處理在閒置農地、堆填區等地方,設置太陽能發電系統申請,包括豁免補地價、成立專責小組協調各部門,如地政署、屋宇署、環保署等的要求,加快整個流程。

再岔開一點,除了發電,運輸是碳排放的元兇,政府也應該仿效內地的做法,對商業企業購買電動巴士提供補貼,鼓勵更多市民綠色出行,而不是一味催谷市民坐地鐵。

但有趣的是,新任環境及生態局局長謝展寰似乎有點「遠視」:一蹴而就聲稱會探索氫能在重型車的應用,但就未有先解決減碳的燃眉之急;提出如何集中資源,做好電動車相關的政策,似乎繼續抱陳守舊;計劃在 2035 年或之前停止新登記燃油私家車,卻未有正視公共運輸系統的碳排放問題。

不應對氣候危機,香港不單止要飽受高溫折磨,沿岸地區更會被淹沒。可是,上屆政府提出的「香港氣候行動藍圖 2050」,所提到的幾項措施最終也是捉襟見肘。當中也未有提及如何在香港發展可再生能源上,好好利用太陽能。再者,所謂關注氣候問題的政府官員,永遠只懂得詭辯,活像一個「氣候演員」,嘥鬼氣。

Renewable Energy in my lightbulb

Mostafa Monira Firdouse, Green Finance Advisor of Friends of the Earth (HK)

In my view, our living and breathing depend on THREE core elements; energy, food and appropriate government policy. No matter where the world moves with geo-political, financial, technology, innovation, disruption, and more, as living beings, we need these three elements to sustain ourselves.

I was reading WEF Energy Transition Index 2022, I realized that the current energy crisis has created a silver lining- increasing the speed of the energy transition and strengthening its resilience to future challenges. I echo with this and honestly, I strongly believe in it too. Today, as the risks of high fossil fuel prices and uncertainties about the global energy supply outlook increase, countries can seize the opportunity to strengthen their commitments to clean energy investments.

The global energy transition is upon us. Public pressure, falling renewable energy costs, and improving technology are driving the change. The coming decade will be a pivotal point in this transition and will likely dictate whether we meet several international climate goals. It falls on the shoulders of each country to meet their renewable energy commitments.

As we know, electricity generation is the largest contributor to carbon emissions in Hong Kong. Two power companies have gradually replaced coal with natural gas from 2015 to 2020, and so the share of natural gas has significantly increased from around a quarter to almost half. The HK government introduced the Feed-in Tariff (FiT) Scheme with the power companies in 2018, in which the power companies purchase RE generated by the private sector at a rate higher than the electricity tariff.

The two power companies have received a total of over 16,000 applications from October 2018 to June 2021, of which over 14,000 have been approved. Upon completion of the installation of all approved solar energy generation systems, about 200 million kWh of electricity is estimated to be generated each year, which is sufficient to meet the electricity demand of about 67,000 households, reducing about 140,000 tons of carbon emissions each year (i.e. about 0.4% of Hong Kong’s total carbon emissions). Link

While I am writing this article, I am counting my 15th anniversary of my motherhood; optimism is thus not a choice for me but survival to remain hopeful for my daughter’s future. I’m looking forward to seeing home grown renewable energy power my lightbulb.

South East Asia’s Green Economy 2022

Alexandra Tracy, Green Finance Advisor of Friends of the Earth (HK)

A new report by Bain & Company, Temasek and Microsoft is bullish on the opportunities for investing in South East Asia’s green economy.  The report predicts that 2022 will be an “inflection point” for South East Asia as the region works to translate COP26 climate commitments into tangible action.  Six governments have set net zero targets in the last year and two (Singapore and Indonesia) are piloting carbon taxes.

The “Southeast Asia’s Green Economy 2022 Report”, released during Temasek’s annual Ecosperity Week conference, identified five key areas of opportunity in the region over the next decade, representing as much as US$1 trillion annually.

Five key areas of opportunity

By 2030, the authors expect solar and wind could generate US$30 billion a year in revenues, building on accelerating corporate investment in both sectors.  While market reforms and grid upgrades are still needed to allow renewables to reach their full potential, there are clear opportunities for solar, especially in Malaysia and the Philippines, and for both onshore and offshore wind projects in the Philippines and Vietnam.

Electric mobility looks poised to take off in Indonesia, Thailand and Vietnam, especially for two wheeler electric vehicle manufacturing and sales, building up to revenues of US$50 billion a year in 2030.  Foreign companies currently dominate vehicle and cell manufacturing, but there are likely to be opportunities for local players become involved in setting up battery manufacturing plants in the region.

Meanwhile, urban development represents a US$40 billion opportunity annually by 2030, across many sectors.  Green building in Singapore and Indonesia will be a driver of growth, while the explosion in the number of data centres in the region will continue to create demand for energy saving technology and efficient cooling solutions in countries such as Singapore, the Philippines and Thailand.

Forest conservation is one of the largest carbon abatement solutions for South East Asia, with the potential to generate US$20 billion a year in 2030.  The authors expect opportunities for investment to grow significantly, especially in Malaysia and Indonesia, as trading carbon credits generated by nature based solutions becomes more widespread.

Closely linked to forest conservation as a carbon abatement solution, sustainable agriculture could represent a US$30 billion opportunity annually by 2030.  Technology solutions to improve efficiency and reduce wastage, such as precision agriculture and real time data collection, are likely to see significant early stage investment, while online platforms to allow farmers to reach markets more easily are already gaining traction in countries such as Thailand and Vietnam.

Green investment growth

South East Asia has seen US$15 billion invested in green sectors since 2020, with the majority going to renewables and the built environment.  Corporates have been building capacity across the region in renewables and electric vehicle ecosystems while there has been significant growth in private equity and venture capital investment, especially in the energy and agrifood sectors.

Short of where it needs to be

While the report is positive about the momentum in green investment growing across both public and private sectors, it clearly states that South East Asia is well short of where it needs to be to reach 2030 goals.

There is still a large emission gap of 2.6 to 3.2 gigatons to reach a target of maximum 1.5 degrees Celsius of warming by 2030, according to countries’ latest Nationally Determined Contributions and policy projections.  The capital amount needed to close this gap could be as much as US$3 trillion, the bulk of which will be required to finance upgrades in energy, industrial and residential urban development and waste management.

Measured against these targets, the current investment level is less than US$20 billion.  While private sector green financing is growing, it is insufficient and public sector needs to play a bigger role to fill financing gaps, particularly in terms of system costs, such as development of a renewables grid and full infrastructure for electric vehicles.  Meanwhile, current concerns about energy security, food security and widespread inflationary pressures are competing with climate change for urgent attention from policy makers.

What needs to change

The report suggests that there are a number of actions that could accelerate the pace of green investment in the region.

There needs to be more emphasis on taking opportunities to roll out proven technology, as opposed to identifying “revolutionary” decarbonisation solutions.  This could also help to tackle stubborn investment barriers such as uncertainty about returns and the small scale of many start up projects.

Governments need to do more to clarify system costs for energy transition, including the phasing out of legacy assets, and to put in place mechanisms to attract private investment.  They can also do more to incentivise the financial services industry to develop new products that lower the cost of capital for companies seeking to decarbonise, especially small and medium sized enterprises.

Finally, steps could be taken to increase collaboration throughout South East Asia.  Decarbonisation presents different challenges across the region, where demand might exist in one country, but capital in another, while opportunities need scale to be delivered at lower costs.  Government and business must look for ways to foster partnerships across value chain, industries and public/private sectors to allow expertise and capital to flow most easily to where it is needed.

July 2022 Events on Green Finance/ 2022年7月綠色金融活動一覽

Check out the above calendar for the fantastic green finance events for July 2022! Interested to join and learn more about Green Finance? Browse the links below to check out the upcoming events.

以上一圖看清2022年7月精彩的綠色金融活動!如欲參加及了解上述活動,歡迎瀏覽以下網址:

[1] SME ESG Best Practices Recognition Programme

[2] S&P Global Sustainable1 Summit virtual series – Session1: Voluntary Carbon Markets Opportunities

[3] 2022 China Sustainable Investment Forum Summit – Building a Transition Finance System

[4] Effective Carbon Emissions Trading and Markets-Pricing Mechanisms in the Asia-Pacific Region

[5] S&P Global Sustainable1 Summit virtual series – Session2: Aligning Portfolios with a Net Zero Strategy

[6] TCFD Capacity Building Series for China: Session 5 – Transition Plans (Net Zero Pathway)

[7] Perspectives from APAC, EU, Switzerland: Redefining ESG Claims in an Age of Greenwashing

[8] HKEX ESG Academy: Corporate Governance in Focus

咁多ESG指數,到底搞乜東東

香港地球之友綠色金融顧問 黃思靈

過去半年恒生指數公司推出了好幾個追蹤香港股票市場的ESG或氣候指數, 恒指ESG增強、恒指ESG增強精選、恒指低碳、恒生氣候變化 1.5°C 目標指數,還有最新的恒生國指ESG增強.. 若加上早期的恒指ESG、恒生國指ESG和恒生可持續發展企業指數系列,這支ESG指數軍隊成員可不少呢。

只是,老實說,這「堆」指數有點亂,名字又差不多,正常人應該都不會知道當中分別,請容筆者借這場合稍微介紹和說明下:

ESG指數選擇這麼多,不知最終哪個會跑出最為社會關注。只是,單純筆者個人感受,目前投資者對ESG重要性的理解尚未成熟,大家普遍在意的還是回報。在這ESG普及化的漫漫長路上,還望大家都一同學習、成長!