Electric Energy Resources in Hong Kong

By Cai Zhi Yao

Table of Contents

1. Introduction

2. Definition

3. Electric Energy Resource Import in Hong Kong

3.1. Coal 

3.2. Natural Gas

4. Renewable Energy Power Implementation in Hong Kong

1. Wind Power

2. Solar Power

3. Nuclear Powe

5. Primary and Secondary Education of Electric Energy Resource in Hong Kong

6. Implications and Recommendations

7. Conclusion

8. References

9. Key Terms and Definitions

10. Notes

11. Appendix

12. About the Author

1. Introduction

Hong Kong, Special Administration Region of the Republic of China, is an international city with a population of 7,266,500 (2014 year-end). Under the inevitable globalisation and internalisation, Hong Kong is trying to become an environmentally friendly city. The government and NGOs are promoting sustainable projects. Education as one of the indispensable units of the society, should be seen as an important part of such projects. This entry introduces a broad definition of electric energy and illustrates the situation and controversy in Hong Kong. It then discusses two main imported traditional resources, coal and natural gas, and talks about the implementation of renewable energy resources such as wind, solar, and nuclear power. After that, the entry examines General and Liberal Studies to see if the topic of sustainable development is discussed in Primary and Secondary education.

2. Definition

Energy is the ability of a system to perform work, and power is the rate of energy use or delivery. The most important and significant distinction between them is their units. The common unit of power is the Watt (W) whereas the unit of energy is kWh. Though there is the watt in the unit of energy, energy measurement also includes time. The word ‘power’ is sometimes used to replace electricity. Wind-power is used as electricity from wind (Coley, 2008). Interpretation may differ in different languages. For example, power means Nengliang (能量) while energy refers to Nengyuan (能源) in Chinese. Electric energy is converted from mechanical energy by rotating the electromechanical generators (El-Sharkawi, 2008). In many industrial applications, electric energy is converted from kinetic energy in the generator (Coley, 2008). In this entry, the focus is on the resources of electric energy, which are mainly used to generate electricity for domestic use.

3. Electric Energy Resource Import in Hong Kong

As a city with no local energy resources, Hong Kong receives its energy supplies almost entirely from other countries. These resources include fossil fuels (e.g. coal and natural gas) and renewable sources (e.g. wind and solar power). This section discusses two imported traditional resources (coal and natural gas) and tracks the changes in their use to explain what efforts have been made to shift to sustainability in Hong Kong.

3.1. Coal

Coal products include steam coal, wood charcoal, anthracite, and coke/semi-coke. They are imported from a wide range of locations. The retained imports of coal products have been dominated in terms of quantity by steam coal that is mainly used for electricity generation.

The major exporting countries have changed under industrialisation and globalisation (Figure 1.1). According to Hong Kong Energy Statistics (1997, 2007 & 2014), Hong Kong imported steam coal and other coal products mainly from Indonesia (1,835,168), Australia (1,771,886) and Mainland China (1,034,596), which accounted for 32%, 31% and 18% of the corresponding total in 1997 respectively. However, Indonesia (11,404,051) became the major supplier in 2007. The amount provided by China and Australia has declined to 6.2% and 0.6% respectively. In 2014, Indonesia (8,199,598) still kept its leading position with 76.7% of corresponding total. Only 138 tonnes were imported from China in 2014. One of the reasons is that in 2005 Indonesia overtook Australia and became the world’s largest producer and exporter of coal (Indonesia Investments, 2015).

Figure 1.1  Percentage of total steam and other coal consumption in 1997, 2007, 2014 ( HKCSD  Annual Reports)

Figure 1.1 Percentage of total steam and other coal consumption in 1997, 2007, 2014 (HKCSD Annual Reports)

Export from China in 2014 was less than 0.05% of the corresponding total.

According to BP Statistical Review of World Energy (BP Global, 2015), Hong Kong shared 0.2% of total world coal consumption in 2014. This is higher than what Demark (0.1%) and Finland (0.1%) consumed. The total coal consumption in Hong Kong increased by 4.82% from 2013. In comparison, consumption rates in Singapore (2.9%) and Mainland China (0.1%) were lower. In other countries steps to further reduce consumption were taken. Taiwan (-0.2%), Malaysia (-6.2%), Japan (-1.6%), and Denmark (-18.9%) decreased the consumption of coal.

Since 1997, the government has prohibited establishment of new power generation that depends on coal as it is the major air polluter (Environmental Protection Department, 2015). For example, Hong Kong stopped importing coal/semi-coal products that have high carbon content. Instead, natural gas as the source of power generation has been encouraged.

3.2. Natural Gas

In 1996, Hong Kong introduced natural gas as an energy resource for electricity generation. Yacheng 13-1 gas field in Hainan Province was constructed with 90.8 billion m3 in December of 1995. It started to transfer natural gas to Hong Kong in January 1996 through a submarine pipeline (780 km) (IITDHP, 2011). Natural gas from Yacheng 13-1 gas field was used in Black Point and Castle Peak Power Station for electricity generation. With reserves depletion and increase of the demand, in 2008, the Chief Executive and the Vice-chairman of NDRC Mr. Zhang Guobao signed a Memorandum of Understanding (HKSARG, 2008) which renewed the supply agreement for 20 years.

Now some power stations use gas as their key method to generate electricity. For example, Black Point Power Station of CLP is one of the world’s largest gas-fired combined cycle power stations. Also, HK Electric has installed one 55MW and four 125MW gas turbines, one 335MW and one 345 MW combined cycle units in Lamma Power Station in 2011. By doing this, it can enable companies to reduce CO2 emission in Hong Kong.

4. Renewable Energy Power Implementation in Hong Kong

According to the REN21 2015 Annual Report, renewables contributed 19% to energy consumption and 22% to electricity generation in 2012 and 2013 respectively all over the world. To try to reduce the environmental impact of energy consumption in Hong Kong, CLP and HK Electric develop plans and projects to maintain a healthy balance between safety, reliability, and environmental performance.

4.1. Wind Power

Wind power is extracted from airflow using wind turbines or sails to produce electrical power. Wind power is consistent yearly but has significant variation over shorter scales. Therefore, it is usually used in conjunction with other electric power.

Hong Kong’s first wind power station Lamma Winds was launched in February 2006. The aims of HK Electric were to provide practical experience in operating a wind turbine and promote public understanding of renewable energy through this pilot project. The wind power is located in the northern part of Lamma Island with the average wind speed of 5.5 metres per second. Its proximity to the existing transmission network, accessibility to roads, and a minimum impact on local wildlife and residents make it an ideal place for wind power generation. According to HK Electric (2015)[z1] , the wind turbine will generate 800,000 to one million units of electricity every year. It is expected to offset the usage of 62,000 tonnes of coal and 150,000 tonnes of CO2 emission annually.

4.2. Solar Power

Solar power is conversion of sunlight into electricity. Photovoltaics (PV) or Concentrated Solar Power (CSP) system are used in this process. PV converts light into an electric current using the photovoltaic effect while CSP use lenses or mirrors and tracking systems to focus a large area of sunlight into a concentrated beam. According to International Energy Agency (IEA), solar power would be the world’s largest source of electricity by 2050.

In 2010, HK Electric built a commercial-scale solar power system with a generating capacity of 1MW in Hong Kong. The system comprises 5,500 amorphous silicon and 3,162 amorphous/microcrystalline silicon tandem junction TFPV modules that consume less silicon and are more environmentally friendly. This system is expected to generate 1,100,000 units of electricity annually, which will also help to reduce 915 tonnes of CO2 emissions every year.

4.3. Nuclear Power

The threats of global climate change and increasingly expensive fossil fuels have prompted many nations to reconsider the development of nuclear energy as an option. There is no nuclear power station in Hong Kong. However, according to CLP, Hong Kong imports 70% of electricity from Guangdong Daya Bay Nuclear Power Plant that was launched in 1994. In 2009, the supply contract was extended until 2034. The Plant is located in Shenzhen which is a convenient place to provide electricity to Hong Kong. The capacity purchase of this plant is 1,378MW and CLP has 492MW equity capacity.

Nuclear decision-making involves not only technical issues but also a complex mix of economic, social, environmental, and governance concerns such as risk management and public distrust (NEA, 2010). [z2] WWF Hong Kong offered four reasons to reject nuclear power. First, Hong Kong is able to reach the proposed carbon reduction target without the need for nuclear power only if they could be firmly on demand side management (DSM). Second, Hong Kong should carry out large-scale energy saving and conservation programmes instead of increasing energy supply. Third, the society and citizens should change the ‘out of sight, out of mind’ mentality. Last, safety issues of using nuclear power need to be discussed.

5. Primary and Secondary Education of Electric Energy Resource in Hong Kong

Starting from Primary 3, pupils gain general knowledge about energy and develop awareness about saving energy in daily consumption. In secondary education level, the curricula for science (S1-3) and physics (S3-6) have a limited time for relevant courses. According to Syllabuses for Secondary Schools in Science (Secondary 1-3), science class at this level has 11 units with only one unit about energy and one about electricity. According to Physics Curriculum and Assessment Guide (Secondary 4-6), physics class at this level has compulsory part (184 hours), elective part (50 hours), and investigative study (16 hours). For elective part, students choose only 2 out of 4 topics. The learning content is partly based on student’s personal choice. In Secondary 4-6, the arrangement is different. The unit on Electricity and Magnetism (48 out of 184 hours) is a compulsory part whereas unit on Energy and Use of Energy (25 out of 50 hours) is an elective part.

Other units also cover such energy sources as gas and nuclear energy. Those units, however, teach to further assess students’ knowledge, not cultivate their awareness of sustainable development. In the Appendix we can observe discrepancies between learning contents and outcomes. Although students are required to have knowledge in a specific area, they study the topic broadly and in an exam-oriented way.

6. Implications and Recommendations

From a technological perspective, during the last decade efforts have been made by the government and NGOs to facilitate the efficiency of electricity generation and shift to clean energy sources. The awareness of citizens and energy saving education, however, need to be improved.

The Thematic Household Survey Report No. 17 (2004) revealed that the majority of households often or sometimes ‘did not mind using appliances with high electricity consumption for comfort of living’ (83.0%) and ‘did not care about the amount of electricity consumed as well as the charges involved’ (76.0%). This attitude may influence the progress in energy saving, especially in Hong Kong where residential income and consumption are relatively high. It was also observed that, although 63.6% of the investigated households supported the government to introduce renewable energy, 36.9% of them indicated that they would not choose to use renewable energy. Further research is needed to examine the influences on people’s attitudes about renewable energy (e.g. tariff and finical condition). Education should also highlight the importance of sharing responsibility to promote sustainable development in Hong Kong. The government and Education Bureau should not only focus on academic achievement, but also provide opportunities for relevant extracurricular activities.

7. Conclusion

This entry focuses on the electric energy resources in Hong Kong. In the age of globalisation and internalisation, the society is developing very fast but is experiencing the shortage of resources. To turn to the path of sustainable development, the government and NGOs in Hong Kong are trying to optimise and improve infrastructure and awareness and knowledge about the issues related to sustainability. For example, the electricity bills show how many carbon dioxides household produce. Although the effect of these initiatives needs further discussion, the efforts are significantly recognised.

Education system as a vital process of social functioning should also address this problem. The current educational system is assessment oriented and does not provide opportunities for extracurricular activities that would raise awareness about energy consumption. Policies should be developed to educate a new generation to lead sustainable lifestyles.


BP Global. (2015, June). BP Statistical Review of World Energy (64th ed.). London, UK: BP.

Census and Statistics Department (HKCSD). (1998, July). Hong Kong Energy Statistics: Annual Report 1997 Edition. Hong Kong, Census and Statistics Department.

Census and Statistics Department (HKCSD). (2004, April). Thematic Household Survey Report No. 17. Hong Kong, Census and Statistics Department.

Census and Statistics Department (HKCSD). (2008, May). Hong Kong Energy Statistics: 2007 Annual Report. Hong Kong, Census and Statistics Department.

Census and Statistics Department (HKCSD). (2015, April). Hong Kong Energy Statistics: 2014 Annual Report. Hong Kong, Census and Statistics Department.

Coley, A. D. (2008). Energy and Climate Change: Creating a Sustainable Future. Hoboken, NJ: John Wiley.

Curriculum Development Council (CDC). (1998). Syllabuses for Secondary Schools: Science (Secondary 1-3). Hong Kong, Education Department.

Curriculum Development Council (CDC). (2011). General Studies for Primary Schools: Curriculum Guide (Primary 1 - Primary 6). Hong Kong, Education Bureau.

Curriculum Development Council & The Hong Kong Examinations and Assessment Authority (CDC & HKEAA). (2014, January). Science Education Key Learning Area: Physics Curriculum and Assessment Guide (Secondary 4 - 6). Hong Kong, Education Bureau.

El-Sharkawi, A. M. (2009). Electric Energy: An Introduction. Boca Raton: CRC Press

Hong Kong Special Administrative Region Government (HKSARG). (2008, August). Memorandum of Understanding on Energy Co-operation. Hong Kong, GovHK. Retrieved from http://www.info.gov.hk/gia/general/200808/28/P200808280188.htm

The Hongkong Electric Co., Ltd. (2015). The Power behind Hong Kong: Lamma Power Station. Retrieved from https://www.hkelectric.com/en/MediaResources/Documents/LPS_2014.pdf

Industry and Information Technology Department of Hainan Province (IITDHP). (2012). Hainan Province Chronicle: Industry Chronicle (The second round). Retrieved from http://www.smehi.gov.cn/gyzh/1991_2010/main.htm

Indonesia Investment. (2015, October). Coal. Retrieved from http://www.indonesia-investments.com/business/commodities/coal/item236

Mah N. D., Hills P., & Tao J. (2014). Risk Perception, Trust and Public Engagement in Nuclear Decision-making in Hong Kong. Energy Policy, 73(2014): 368-390.

NaturalGas.org. (2013, September). Overview of Natural Gas. Retrieved from http://naturalgas.org/overview/history/

Nuclear Energy Agency (NEA). (2010). Public Attitude to Nuclear Power. Paris: Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development.

REN21. (2015). REN21 annual report 2014. Paris: REN21

WWF-Hong Kong. (n.d.). Why Say No to Additional Nuclear. Hong Kong: World Wildlife Fund. Retrieved from http://www.wwf.org.hk/en/whatwedo/footprint/climate/whynonuclear/

Key Terms and Definitions

Electric Energy: Energy is the ability of a system to perform work and power is the rate of energy use or delivery. And electric energy is the energy newly derived from electric potential energy.

Hong Kong: Officially Hong Kong Special Administrative Region of the People's Republic of China, it is an autonomous territory on the southern coast of China without indigenous energy resources

Traditional Energy Resource: natural resources that are all that exists without the actions of humankind and are used to generate electricity.

Renewable Energy:  energy that comes from resources which are naturally replenished on a human timescale, such as sunlight, wind, rain, tides, waves, and geothermal heat.


 [z1]The Hongkong Electric Co., Ltd. (2015). The Power behind Hong Kong: Lamma Power Station. Retrieved from https://www.hkelectric.com/en/MediaResources/Documents/LPS_2014.pdf

 [z2]Nuclear Energy Agency (NEA). (2010). Public Attitude to Nuclear Power. Paris: Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development. 

Appendix 1 Content and Learning Objective from Primary 1 to Secondary 6 (General Studies for Primary Schools Curriculum Guide, Syllabuses for Secondary Schools in Science, and Physics Curriculum and Assessment Guide)


About the Author

Cai Zhi Yao

MEd, The University of Hong Kong

Email: cxzyao@gmail.com