Hong Kong

Govt to push ahead nuclear power despite Japan incident

By Andrea Deng (HK Edition)
Updated: 2011-03-22 07:01
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SAR committed to 'clean energy' to replace emphasis on high-polluting coal

Government officials intend to press forward with plans to increase nuclear energy into Hong Kong's power mix, despite the nuclear crisis in Japan.

Secretary for the Environment Bureau Edward Yau Tang-wah reiterated Monday the necessity to promote nuclear energy in Hong Kong.

"We believe that the use of coal should be abated gradually, while the use of nuclear energy should be augmented gradually," said Yau, referring to the high pollution levels generated by burning coal to serve present power needs.

"However, we must factor in security concerns, especially when the Japanese nuclear crisis had a considerable psychological impact on the general public. The government will take that into consideration," he added.

Referring to an amendment of the current grouping structure of fuel combustion, Yau said more than half of the electricity is generated by coal combustion.

The bureau has proposed to raise the use of clean energy - not least nuclear energy - to reach 50 percent by 2020.

The bureau also pledged to study the cause behind the Japanese radiation leak, and refer to the security evaluation of nuclear facilities designed on the Chinese mainland, before hammering out a new set of energy portfolio in Hong Kong.

"Using nuclear energy is a practical option for energy consumption," said Larry Chow Chuen-ho, professor and director of Hong Kong Energy Studies Centre, adding that other clean energy, such as natural gas, requires higher costs than nuclear energy.

Chow advised that a suitable grouping for fuel consumption that supplies energy in Hong Kong should also refer to the standards in Taiwan and South Korea, which will also be revised in the near future after the Japanese nuclear crisis.

"The Japanese nuclear incident offered us a good example to study. The design of the new energy grouping should take that into consideration," he said.

Chow also said that the Daya Bay Nuclear Power Plant is much safer than its counterpart in Fukushima, because Daya Bay was put into use in 1994, while the Fukushima reactors were built in the 1960s.

Currently, 70 percent of the electricity generated by the plant in the Daya Bay is supplied to Hong Kong, said Chow.

In Monday's daily briefing, government officials noted that despite the incident in Japan, there has been no adverse affect on radiation levels in Hong Kong.

"By far, the ten air monitors have shown that the radiation level in Hong Kong remains normal," said Leung Wing-mo, assistant director of Hong Kong Observatory.

While Yukio Edano, Japan's chief cabinet secretary, announced Monday afternoon that milk and spinach, which were found to have been contaminated by radiation, have been prohibited from export.

Eric Chan Kwok-ki, newly designated director of Immigration Department, confirmed that the stricter radioactive inspection at the customs had found no problem in any imported foods.

China Daily

(HK Edition 03/22/2011 page1)