On a cool Friday evening in August, I was at the Victoria Harbor in Hong Kong, enjoying the “Light Show” with amazement and wonder over the decorative lights and lasers from buildings using huge amount of electricity. “Symphony of Lights” is a daily light and sound show in Hong Kong.
I purposely chose to go there on a Friday evening, as they do the narration is in English. It begins at 8 pm and ends at 8:15 pm every day. It is the world’s largest permanent light and sound show, according to Guinness World Records. In Hong Kong, electricity is generated using coal, natural gas and nuclear energy as the sources. Electricity consumption per capita was 6,073.02 kWh (2014).
A few months back, I came across a report entitled, “Myanmar’s growing electricity needs”, in which an interview with Union Minister for Electricity and Energy U Win Khaing was posted on the Ministry’s website on 29 January 2018.
The consumption rate of electricity in Myanmar is increasing at least 15 per cent each year, and it is estimated that Myanmar is expected to consume about 4,531 megawatts of electricity in 2020-2021. Currently, the annual total electricity production is 3,189 megawatts, with 1,342 megawatts still needed. It is generated from 17 hydropower stations and 15 thermal power production facilities. With more plants under the plan, the demand is set to be met by the year 2022.
These power plants can produce 15 per cent from hydropower production, 18 per cent from power plants based on Heavy Fuel Oil (HFO), 30 per cent from power plants using Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG), and 5 per cent from solar power plant.
The power supply is the first question asked by foreign and local investors. Currently, the ministry can say that it could take responsibility for a reliable power supply by 2020.
At this juncture, the writer of this article would like to share some knowledge with the esteemed readers on the topic “Electricity Generation and Transmission in Hong Kong”. In no way the writer is suggesting to imitate, copy, reproduce, mirror, echo or follow it. I fully understand that we are on our way and in our own pace.
Electricity sector in Hong Kong ranges from generation, transmission, distribution and sales of electricity covering Hong Kong. There are two main providers of electricity in Hong Kong.
(1) Hongkong Electric Company (HEC)
(2) CLP Power Hong Kong Limited (CLP)
In 2012, Hong Kong relied on coal (53%), nuclear (23%), natural gas (22%) and a very small amount (2%) of renewable energy for its electricity generation. As coal-firing generation units started to retire in 2017, the Government planned to raise the share of natural gas to 50% in 2020, while maintaining the share of nuclear power at present levels.
Electricity generation in power plants in Hong Kong coal-fired power plants
The power plants in Hong Kong mainly use coal and natural gas as fuel to generate electricity. The fuel releases chemical energy upon combustion; hot steam or gas is generated and used to drive turbines, thus converting part of the internal energy of the hot steam or gas into useful kinetic energy. Turning turbines then operate a generator to produce electricity. Examples of coal-fired power plants can be found in the Lamma Power Station of The Hongkong Electric Co., Ltd. (HEC) and Castle Peak Power Station of CLP Power Hong Kong Limited (CLP Power).
In Hong Kong, power plant generators are turned at a precise rate of 3000 rpm during operation to generate an AC of frequency 50Hz. In order to withstand the tremendous force in rapid rotation and to optimize the output during operation, the design and construction of the generator is detailed and complex.
Natural gas power plants
Natural gas is gaining importance as the fuel for electricity generation in Hong Kong as well as worldwide. Natural gas is cleaner when burning and can burn at a higher temperature. A higher temperature is more favorable in achieving higher efficiency for electricity generation. But a high temperature also places higher demand on the material of the turbine. The recent advancements in metallurgy, ceramics and material technologies allow natural gas to be used efficiently in electricity generation.
Gas turbines can be used in power plants that use natural gas or some forms of fuel oil like industrial gas oil or diesel oil as the source of energy. The technologies applied to gas turbines for electricity generation are borrowed from those developed for aircraft jet turbines. Gas turbine power plants designed for combined cycle operation have a higher efficiency.
CLP Power also obtains power from the Guangdong Daya Bay Nuclear Power Station. Nuclear power stations use uranium as the source of energy for electricity generation. Uranium is a kind of heavy metal element. When it undergoes nuclear fission reaction, a large amount of energy is released and this is used as the source of energy for electricity production. While conventional power plants use chemical energy, nuclear power plants use nuclear energy for electricity generation.
Transmission and distribution system in Hong Kong
Power plants are usually far away from populated areas. Underground cables and/or overhead lines are required to transmit and distribute electricity from power plants to users living in populated areas. A system of underground cables and overhead lines, forming a transmission network, carries the electricity over long distances to the substations close to populated areas. In the substations the voltage is stepped down. Through another system of cables, forming the distribution network, electricity is distributed over shorter distances to users. In Hong Kong, transmission voltage are 275 kV and 132 kV for HEC and 400 kV and 132 kV for CLP Power.
It is estimated on average that basic costs for electricity, heating, cooling, water, garbage, etc. for an 85 square meter size apartment is 1,386 HK$.(US$176)
How much does it cost to run a 60 watt light bulb for 1 hour? If the bulb is operated for an average of six hours per day, then over the course of a year it will use approximately 6x365x60 = 131 kilowatts of electricity. At an average cost of 12 cents per kilowatt-hour, the 60-watt incandescent bulb will cost approximately HK$17 (US$2.17) per year to operate.
Popular renewable energy and electricity
For many decades, almost all the electricity consumed in the world has been generated from three different forms of power plant — fossil, hydro and nuclear. Currently, the renewable energy is generating in a relatively small share of the world’s electricity, although that trend is growing fast.
In conclusion, the writer would like to wrap up in a broader approach. There is widespread popular support for using renewable energy, particularly solar and wind energy, which provides electricity without giving rise to any carbon dioxide emissions.