HK Electric, one of the two electricity suppliers in Hong Kong, the other being China Light & Power, plans to develop an offshore wind farm southwest of Lamma Island in support of the government's goal of achieving net-zero electricity generation and carbon neutrality by 2050.
The Environmental Protection Department has approved the company’s application for variation of an environmental permit for the project, to allow for the use of more effective wind power generation technology.
With the amended environmental permit, the wind farm project will be included in HK Electric's next five-year development plan (2024-2028 ) and submitted for government approval. Tendering is expected to start in 2024 for commissioning in 2027.
The proposed wind farm, covering an area of about 600 hectares, is located about four kilometres away from Lamma Power Station and will have a capacity of around 150 megawatts. Depending on the capacity of the wind turbine model to be selected, about 13 to 19 wind turbines, each 8MW to 12MW, will be built. The overall upper tip height of the wind turbines will be between 198 and 271 metres above mean sea level.
HK Electric had been collecting wind data in the selected site for many years. According to findings by independent consultants after reviewing recent data, the selected site has sufficient wind resources with an average wind speed of about 7.1 metres per second, which is also higher than the average wind speed recorded by the Hong Kong Observatory at the Waglan Island Meteorological Monitoring Station. This makes the selected site ideal for a wind farm.
Says HK Electric managing director Wan Chi-tin: "To achieve carbon neutrality to combat climate change, HK Electric fully supports the government's zero-carbon electricity goal. Apart from increasing gas-fired generation, we have been exploring the development of renewable energy on a wider scale in Hong Kong."
The proposed wind farm is envisioned to produce about 400 million units of zero-carbon electricity a year, which is around 4% of HK Electric's total electricity output, enough for the annual use by about 120,000 households (based on 275 units a month), while saving around 284,000 tonnes of carbon dioxide emissions per year.
The project not only helps the company achieve its carbon-neutrality goal but can also boost the proportion of renewable energy and help manage air pollution in the city, Wan notes.
It will also provide valuable experience for future opportunities in operating large-scale renewable energy infrastructure, as well as economic benefits by creating opportunities for the energy, construction and tourism industries, he adds.
HK Electric obtained the environmental permit for the wind farm project back in 2010. With substantial improvements in offshore wind power generation technology, the generation unit design originally proposed became outdated.
That being the case, an application for variation of the environmental permit was recently submitted and approved, confirming that the adjustments will not constitute material changes to the environment in respect of water quality, marine ecology, fisheries, operational noise impact, etc.
HK Electric has set up a stakeholder liaison group with representatives from fisheries organizations, environmental groups and academic institutions, together with individuals and organizations concerned with energy issues and sustainable development. Regular meetings will be held to provide a consultation platform and to collect feedback from different stakeholders on the design, construction and operation of the offshore wind farm project, the company says.