LCQ16: The application of renewable energy

     Following is a question by the Hon Frederick Fung Kin Kee and a written reply by the Acting Secretary for the Environment, Dr Kitty Poon, at the Legislative Council meeting today (June 1):


     Regarding the application of renewable energy (RE), will the Government inform this Council:

(a) of the percentage of electricity from RE sources in the total electricity consumption of government bureaux and departments in the past five years; among the government office buildings, of the number and the percentage of building blocks at which RE power generation facilities have been installed at present; whether the Government will set a target percentage of electricity from RE sources in its total electricity consumption, and install RE power generation facilities at all of its buildings wherever this is technically feasible, so as to take the lead and set an example in this respect; if it will not, of the reasons for that;

(b) as I have received views that there are great difficulties in installing RE facilities at present, including the cumbersome requirements and procedures for approval of the Buildings Department and the high cost for connection to electricity grids, etc., thus discouraging quite a number of interested parties, of the number of buildings (apart from those buildings of the Government) at which RE power generation facilities are installed at present; of the general procedures for installing RE facilities at private residential buildings and organisations at present; whether the authorities have looked into the difficulties that might be encountered during the process; whether they know the number of applications received by the authorities as well as power companies for installing RE facilities and connecting to electricity grids for private residential buildings and organisations in the past three years; among such applications, of the number and percentage of those approved, and the average cost for connecting to electricity grids; whether the authorities have conducted analysis on the various installation costs of RE facilities at present; if they have, of the outcome of analysis; and

(c) whether the authorities will study the following issues: simplifying the procedures required for using RE facilities, lowering the installation costs (including lowering the cost for connecting to electricity grids), facilitating the public to use the latest RE technology, developing reference prototypes on the infrastructure required for installing RE facilities, providing typical examples for reference by the industry and public on the installation of power generating facilities using solar and wind energy on the rooftops of common buildings and detached houses, and conducting analysis on the installation procedures and costs, etc.; whether the authorities will consider providing financial and other incentives to attract more private buildings and organisations to use RE, studying the introduction of requirements for all new buildings to install RE power generation facilities, setting an indicator on the percentage of using RE, and requiring the power companies to set a target percentage of their total generating capacity to be met by RE sources?



(a) Constrained by geographical conditions, the extent to which renewable energy (RE) can be put to use in Hong Kong is not significant. This notwithstanding, the Government is committed to promoting the adoption and development of RE, by taking the lead where technically feasible and cost effective. In 2005, the Government issued a technical circular on "Adoption of Energy Efficient Features and Renewable Energy Technologies in Government Projects and Installations", requiring Government departments to consider the adoption of RE technologies in all new Government buildings and major retrofitting projects in existing Government buildings. The technical circular also provides guidance on the standards for adopting solar water heating, photovoltaic, wind turbine and biogas technologies in Government projects and installations. Besides, the Development Bureau and the Environment Bureau promulgated a comprehensive target-based green performance framework for new and existing Government buildings in April 2009, which sets targets in various green building aspects. On RE, all new schools and educational buildings without air-conditioning should aim to have at least 0.5% of their electricity consumption to be provided by RE, where technically and financially viable.  Other Government buildings should also incorporate RE technologies as far as reasonably practicable.  

     With regard to actual site conditions, the Government has been installing RE systems in various public facilities and venues including Government offices, departmental headquarters, fire stations, prisons, museums, art and cultural venues, parks, playgrounds, town halls, recreational centres, holiday villages, theatres, Government quarters, hospitals, schools, sewage treatment plants, landfills, etc. According to our estimation, the total energy generated by Government RE facilities (including solar energy, wind energy and waste-to-energy) in 2009-10 is around 2.15% of the Government's total electricity consumption (in terms of energy equivalent) of that year.  

(b) To simplify the procedures for carrying out minor building works to the convenience of the public, the Buildings Department has implemented the Minor Works Control System since December 31, 2010. Any person who wishes to carry out minor works shall appoint prescribed building professionals and/or prescribed registered contractors. These building professionals and contractors shall notify the Building Authority and submit records and certificates in accordance with the simplified requirements under the Building (Minor Works) Regulation, and the works can commence without having to obtain prior approval of plans and consent from the Building Authority. Minor works items that are related to RE facilities include the erection or alteration of supporting structures for solar water heating systems or photovoltaic systems.

     Any person who wishes to carry out any building works relating to RE facilities (other than minor works) shall appoint, in accordance with section 14(1) of the Buildings Ordinance (Cap. 123), an authorised person to prepare plans and obtain prior approval of plans and consent from the Building Authority before commencement of works.  

     To facilitate the public to better understand the application procedures and technical issues relating to grid connection of RE power systems, Electrical and Mechanical Services Department (EMSD) in collaboration with the trade has drawn up technical guidelines on grid connection of RE power systems since 2005. For reference by the trade and the general public, the guidelines set out the technical requirements of RE systems for grid connection (including connection to electrical distribution system, power quality and safety requirements, etc.) and the information required for applications to power companies. The guidelines can be downloaded from the EMSD's website. Under the existing Scheme of Control Agreements, the power companies have provided a set of standard arrangements, in respect of application procedures, for grid connection of RE power systems.

     On the cost of grid connection, CLP Power assists applicants in conducting technical assessment to ensure that any RE systems connected to the grid will not cause potential harm to property or people, or compromise the stability of the electricity grid. The average cost for assessment is about $300-400 per kilowatt (kW). This charge is waived in many cases. For Hongkong Electric, the average cost for grid connection is $400 per kW. The service charge is waived for RE installations with rated capacity not exceeding 30 kW installed by schools and charitable organisations.

     In the past three years, the two power companies received a total of 55 applications from private residential buildings and organisations for grid connection of RE systems. All applications have been approved.  There are no statistics of non grid-connected RE facilities (e.g. solar water heating systems).   

(c) To promote wider adoption of RE, EMSD launched a thematic website "HK RE Net" ( in 2007 to provide technical details and information on RE. In addition, to facilitate the public in better understanding the application of RE technologies, EMSD has published on its website relevant information, guidance notes and guidelines on RE, including "Know more about Renewable Energy", "Know more about Solar Water Heating System", "Know more about Photovoltaic System", "Solar Thermal Collectors for Water Heating", "Guidance Notes for Household-scale Solar Water Heating System at Village House" and "Technical Guidelines on Grid Connection of Renewable Energy Power Systems" etc.

     To promote the development of RE, the Government has provided economic incentives to the power companies under the Scheme of Control Agreements, in terms of a higher rate of return for their investment in RE facilities (11%), and a bonus in the range of 0.01 to 0.05 percentage point in permitted return depending on the extent to which RE is used in electricity generation.

     To encourage wider adoption of RE in private buildings and organisations, the Government has been providing tax incentives since 2008 on the capital expenditure incurred in relation to installation of RE power systems in private premises. The capital expenditure of the private organisation's RE power system in building can be deducted over a 5-year period starting from the year of purchase.

     In addition, the Environment and Conservation Fund provides funding support to schools and non-governmental organisations (NGOs) to set up RE facilities such as solar panels, wind turbines and solar water heaters since early 2008. As at mid May 2011, a total of 216 projects have been approved for the installation of these facilities, including 199 projects at schools, 5 at camp sites for public use, and 12 at service units of NGOs (such as elderly homes). The Government aims to further promote the use of RE through demonstration of these cases and encourage more residential estates and commercial and industrial buildings to follow suit.

Ends/Wednesday, June 1, 2011
Issued at HKT 14:28