CE's speech at opening of HK Science Park Solar Energy Technology Support Centre & DuPont Apollo Global Thin Film Photovoltaic R&D Centre (EngOnly)photos/video)

     Following is the speech by the Chief Executive, Mr Donald Tsang, at the Grand Opening Ceremony of the Hong Kong Science Park Solar Energy Technology Support Centre and DuPont Apollo Global Thin Film Photovoltaic R&D Centre today (March 20):

Mr Holliday, Mr Brooke, Mr Xu (Zongheng), distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen,

     I am delighted to join you for this Grand Opening Ceremony.

     The timing of this event could hardly be better. Today is the Spring Equinox - the first day of spring in the northern hemisphere, and that's the equal sharing of daylight time and dark time. It is nature's time for rejuvenation and new beginnings. In fact, the annual Earth Day was launched during the Spring Equinox in 1970 - to celebrate the life and beauty of our planet and to promote environmental awareness. This brings me to our reason for being here today.

     The opening of both the Support Centre and the R&D Centre mark the start of a new beginning in the advancement of solar energy technology for a cleaner and greener future for our city and our region. It is also a new phase in our relationship with DuPont.

     The research to be carried out here in the new centres will not be pie-in-the-sky, theoretical research but practical feet-on-the-ground research and development. The work here will result in fully realised products to make the widespread use of solar energy a reality.

     These products will help generate electricity in a sustainable way and at higher efficiency levels than the alternatives that are currently available. This is vitally important for the simple reason that solar energy is one of the most promising forms of clean and renewable energy. The wider use of solar energy will lessen our dependence on fossil fuels and reduce the amount of greenhouse gases emitted from conventional power plants.

     A smarter and more efficient way to harvest solar energy benefits the environment, and benefits all of us.

     According to a recent United Nations Study, the solar photovoltaic, or PV, industry averaged annual growth rates of more than 40% between 2000 and 2005, making it one of the fastest growing industries in the world. Global sales revenues are projected to rise to US$27.5 billion by 2012, creating 1.9 million full-time jobs globally by 2020.

     DuPont is a leading global materials supplier to the PV industry. It is also a leader in the development of thin film PV technology. As the first anchor tenant of our Solar Energy R&D Support Centre in the Hong Kong Science Park, DuPont's presence will help attract others in the field to Hong Kong. It will also reinforce our role as a major R&D hub in the region by adding a new dimension to the development of solar energy technology.

     I am pleased that the Hong Kong Science and Technology Parks Corporation has recently proposed establishing a Green Tech Cluster in the Science Park. This will include renewable energy and environmental technologies, including energy management. Solar energy is an essential part of this exciting proposal, which comes at a time when the world is turning its full attention to the problems caused by centuries of dependence on fossil fuels.

     Today's ceremony also highlights the successful beginning of joint efforts between Hong Kong and Shenzhen in attracting promising and exciting new business activities to this region under the "Shenzhen-Hong Kong Innovation Circle". We are pleased that DuPont is our partner in the first major technology co-operation project under this cross-boundary initiative.

     The opening of DuPont's PV R&D Centre is the result of close co-operation between DuPont and the Hong Kong Science and Technology Parks Corporation to undertake and facilitate R&D work in this area. DuPont's R&D facilities in the Science Park and its production facilities in Shenzhen will no doubt bring more jobs and opportunities to this region.

     It will also help us achieve our goal of becoming a low carbon economy and a green example in the Pearl River Delta.

     Hong Kong has a great deal to offer companies engaged in innovation and technology activities. We have the rule of law and excellent IP protection. We have a free flow of information and ideas and global connectivity. We have ready access to capital and skilled labour and our international lifestyle attracts talent from all corners of the globe. In addition, our proximity to the major manufacturing centre and markets of the Pearl River Delta help to make Hong Kong the natural choice for high-tech investment.

     By combining our strengths with those of Shenzhen we have a winning formula.

     Shenzhen has an abundance of highly educated and hard working people, exciting high-tech industry clusters and excellent supply chain connections. It has many upstream suppliers and downstream users. Shenzhen's increasing prosperity also opens up vast market opportunities.  

     The collaborative project we celebrate today has been made possible by the hard work of many parties. I thank Mr George So and Mr Thomas Connelly of DuPont and Mayor Xu for their tireless work in establishing this flagship project. I'm sure it will be the first of many major projects under the "Shenzhen-Hong Kong Innovation Circle".

     Hong Kong will continue to work closely with Shenzhen to attract the best national and international companies to this region. We also have an important intermediary role to play in establishing greater technological co-operation between the Mainland and the rest of the world.

     Ladies and gentlemen, I congratulate everyone involved in this collaborative arrangement for advancing solar energy technology. There is much work to be done in harnessing the power of the sun in an efficient and cost-effective way. I assure you the Hong Kong government will continue to promote the development and use of clean energy sources at every opportunity. This is a very exciting beginning.

     Thank you very much.

Ends/Friday, March 20, 2009
Issued at HKT 15:02