21 April 2019
Hong Kong is considering its power-supply options. Photo: Bloomberg
Hong Kong is considering its power-supply options. Photo: Bloomberg

Go with gas, Macau power exec urges HK

Hong Kong should think twice about buying electricity from the mainland because it’s likely to lead to unstable supplies and weaker bargaining power, warns a senior executive from Macau’s sole power distributor.

Ip Kam-veng, senior manager at Companhia de Electricidade de Macau, said reliability and cost control issues mean Hong Kong should always put a higher priority on generating its own electricity rather than importing it, the Hong Kong Economic Journal reported Thursday.

Macau gets more than 90 percent of its power from the mainland’s China Southern Power Grid Co. Ltd.

Ip raised the concerns during a seminar Wednesday examining two energy proposals to replace output from the retirement of Hong Kong’s aging coal-fired generators. 

The government suggested in March that the city either meet 30 percent of its needs from China Southern Power supplies, with the rest from natural gas, nuclear and coal; or generate 60 percent of its electricity from natural gas, with the rest from nuclear and coal.

Environment Bureau principal assistant secretary Donald Ng suggested the city go for the first option but Ip countered, saying weather conditions and certain human factors could undermine the reliability of supplies from Guangdong. He cited a partial blackout in Macau in 2007 as an example.

Macau’s high reliance on imported power means it is exposed to tariff hikes. China Southern Power has increased rates three times to the MOP80 cents (10 US cents) per unit, or 36 percent higher than prices in 2006.

Ip said Hong Kong should go a more independent route and build its own natural gas plant for electricity generation. Otherwise, the city should think of a backup source in the event of a sudden cut in mainland supplies.

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