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LCQ2: Public charging facilities for electric vehicles
     Following is a question by the Hon Chan Hak-kan and a reply by the Secretary for the Environment, Mr Wong Kam-sing, in the Legislative Council today (December 13):


     At present, the ratio of electric vehicles (EVs) to public charging facilities in Hong Kong is about 7:1. Quite a number of EV owners have indicated that it is often difficult for them to find public charging facilities to charge their EVs.  Regarding public charging facilities for EVs, will the Government inform this Council:

(1) as the Secretary for the Environment said at this Council last month that "public charging facilities are merely supplementary in nature, enabling EVs to top up their batteries to complete their journeys at times of occasional needs", whether, in planning for the provision of public charging facilities, the Government has all along adopted the guiding principle that such facilities are merely supplementary in nature; if so, of the parameters adopted for such guiding principle; if not, when and why the guiding principle was adopted;

(2) given that although the Government has, by way of organizing seminars, encouraged the property management industry to provide charging facilities in housing estates, quite a number of members of the public who intend to buy EVs have indicated that the owners' corporations and the property management companies of the housing estates in which they reside do not consent to the installation of charging facilities in their own private parking spaces, what measures the Government has put in place to help them; and

(3) given that the Government is conducting a pilot scheme at four open car parks to test the reliability of outdoor charging facilities, whether the Government will, after making reference to the review outcome of the pilot scheme available next year, consider introducing parking meters equipped with public charging facilities; if so, of the details; if not, the reasons for that; whether the Government will develop mobile applications to facilitate EV owners to find vacant public parking spaces in the vicinity that are equipped with charging facilities for EVs?



(1) and (2) Regarding the charging arrangements for electric private cars (e-PCs), it has always been the Government's policy objective that e-PC owners should perform daily charging of their e-PCs by using charging facilities at their home, workplace or other suitable places, including charging facilities provided by e-PC suppliers.  Public charging facilities in Hong Kong are supplementary in nature, set up for EVs to top up their batteries to complete their journeys at times of occasional needs. They do not serve as daily charging facilities nor their alternatives. Potential buyers of e-PCs should fully consider the daily charging arrangements required and should not rely on public charging facilities for daily charging of their e-PCs. The Government also sees insufficient justifications for spending large amount of public money to provide e-PC owners with public charging facilities for daily instead of supplementary use.

     Given the above policy objective, the Government's priority is to facilitate and encourage the installation of charging facilities in private premises when planning for the development of charging facilities for e-PCs. On the development of public charging networks as supplementary facilities, the Government not only takes the lead in providing and enhancing governmental public charging facilities but also supports private establishments to set up and improve non-governmental public charging networks.

     On facilitating the installation of charging facilities in private premises, concessions on gross floor area for private car parks in new buildings have been granted from as early as 2011 to encourage developers to put in place the necessary EV charging infrastructure, including provision of sufficient power supply, cables and ducts for all parking spaces in the buildings concerned. In the same year, the Hong Kong Planning Standards and Guidelines was amended to recommend 30 per cent of private parking spaces in new buildings to be installed with charging facilities for e-PCs. According to the information of the Buildings Department, from April 2011 to the end of 2016, over 80 per cent of private parking spaces, involving about 300 car parks and around 30 000 parking spaces, in newly approved developments were to be installed with EV charging infrastructure. By the end of 2016, a total of 6 000-odd parking spaces were completed with EV charging infrastructure in some 70 car parks.  These measures will significantly increase the number of EV charging facilities to be installed in private premises in future.

     For existing private premises, as the installation of charging facilities in their car parks will encounter certain challenges, the Environmental Protection Department (EPD) established in 2011 a dedicated team and a hotline to provide information and technical support as necessary. Besides, the EPD has appealed to owners' corporations for their support to install EV chargers at their premises upon request by EV users, and has shared successful experience with the property management sector. The two power companies also render one-stop services to install charging facilities for EV owners. This includes site inspection, provision of technical advice and connection of power supply, etc.

     In recent years, several private companies have been providing EV owners, housing estates or business establishments with one-stop EV charging services, including installation of charging facilities at EV owners' parking spaces and provision of charging services at other specified locations. As far as we know, these companies have installed charging facilities in around 30 housing estates. According to some EV charging service providers, they recently found owners' corporations to be more willing in approving residents' applications for installation of charging facilities.

     The Government will closely monitor the development of EVs and explore ways to keep enhancing the relevant measures to facilitate the installation of charging facilities in existing premises.

     Regarding public charging networks, the Government currently provides a total of 624 public chargers in government car parks, accounting for some 7 per cent of the parking spaces available for public use. To enhance charging efficiency, we have upgraded 274 standard chargers to medium chargers, with another 96 to follow suit by next April, so that the charging time can be reduced by around 60 per cent.

     As for non-governmental public charging networks, we have all along encouraged the two power companies and both public and private establishments in various sectors to actively support the installation of EV charging facilities. Besides, concessions on gross floor area for car parks have been extended to cover underground public car parks since March 2017. There are currently about 1 150 public chargers available in non-governmental car parks, and the two power companies are upgrading their existing public standard chargers to medium or even quick chargers.

     The number of public chargers territory-wide has increased from 1 036 in 2013 to 1 774 at present, with the number of medium or quick chargers increased from 66 to 880 across the 18 districts in Hong Kong.

     Nowadays, the driving range of e-PCs is at least around 150 kilometres, while the daily mileage of most PCs in Hong Kong is a few tens of kilometres. As such, an e-PC should be able to sustain a whole day's journey after a full charging at its owner's home or workplace. The need for e-PCs to top up their batteries by public chargers should be minimal. Meanwhile, utilisation of public chargers in government car parks remains low. From January 2016 to September 2017, the average utilisation rate of standard/medium chargers in government car parks was about 13 times per month per charger, which was less than half a time per day. Over the same period, the average utilisation rate of standard/medium chargers installed by the two power companies in public car parks was around 38 times per month per charger, amounting to slightly more than once per day, which was also rather low. When considering the provision of more public chargers, the Government has to take account of not only the parking needs of drivers but also the utilisation rate of existing public chargers to ensure cost effectiveness.

(3) The Government is conducting a pilot scheme at four open government car parks to test the reliability of outdoor charging facilities, and the review of the findings is expected to be completed by the end of next year. We will then consider whether more outdoor charging facilities can be provided in other government premises. On the other hand, provision of on-street parking spaces by the Transport Department is to cater for temporary parking needs and such spaces are usually installed with parking meters to prevent prolonged occupation. The Government will continue to pay attention to the development of EVs and their charging infrastructure, and will study this suggestion when necessary.

     Information on public chargers, including their locations, types and numbers, is currently available on EPD webpages. Certain EV charging service providers and EV suppliers have also developed mobile applications by which EV owners can check instant information of chargers available and make reservations accordingly. As regards public chargers in government car parks, equipment is being installed in these car parks for trials on sending instant electronic information of public chargers' utilisation to government electronic platforms for public reference. The trials will be completed next year.

     Thank you, President.
Ends/Wednesday, December 13, 2017
Issued at HKT 14:52
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