The HKSAR Government attaches great importance to combating climate change. As stated in the 2020 Policy Address, Hong Kong would strive to achieve carbon neutrality before 2050. In this connection, Hong Kong’s Climate Action Plan 2050 (CAP 2050) issued in 2021 has outlined comprehensive and proactive strategies and targets to reduce carbon emissions. The development of renewable energy (RE) systems and the popularisation of electric vehicles (EVs) are two of the key measures set out therein for abating carbon emissions in Hong Kong.
The Electrical and Mechanical Services Department (EMSD) of the HKSARG, on the one hand, promotes energy efficiency and conservation, as well as the adoption of RE, and on the other hand, takes a role in establishing electrical safety requirements to enforce the Electricity Ordinance (Cap. 406) (EO) and its subsidiary legislation. To this end, the EMSD has introduced a series of measures to ensure the electrical safety of RE systems and charging facilities for EVs that will be widely installed in the community.
Renewable energy systems
The Feed-in Tariff (FiT) Scheme is an important initiative to encourage the private sector to invest in distributed RE systems. Under the FiT Scheme, persons who install RE systems, for example solar photovoltaic (PV) systems, at their premises can sell the RE generated electricity to power companies at a higher rate than the electricity tariff. The FiT Scheme has been well received by the public. Since the launch of the FiT Scheme in October 2018, the number of applications has increased rapidly and there were over 19,000 applications received with over 17,000 systems approved as at December 2021. Systems already approved under the FiT scheme could generate about 270 million kWh of electricity each year, equivalent to the demand of all households in North Point, Quarry Bay and Tai Koo.
To keep abreast of technological advancement and the latest international standards and practices on RE systems, the EMSD had consulted the trade and updated the Code of Practice for the Electricity (Wiring) Regulations (CoP 2020 edition) in December 2020. The CoP 2020 edition covers the design, installation, inspection and testing requirements of RE systems and can serve as a reference on the installation and testing of RE systems for the trade.
In accordance with the EO, an owner who wishes to connect an RE system to the power grid of a power company shall register the RE system with the EMSD unless the RE system forms part of an electrical installation in premises covered by the Periodic Test Certificate (Form WR2), for example hotels, schools, etc., where RE systems are not required for registration as they will be regularly inspected, tested and certified by a registered electrical contractor who will then assist the owner to submit Form WR2 for the EMSD’s endorsement. In general, owners of RE systems installed at a village house or building unit with an electrical installation of approved loading not exceeding 100A (i.e. does not form part of an electrical installation covered under Form WR2) for participation in the FiT Scheme will have to register the RE system. A person who uses an unregistered RE system that is required to be registered contravenes the EO may be subject to prosecution.
RE systems so registered are monitored and will be checked by the EMSD under a risk-based audit mechanism to ensure that they are in continuous safe working order. In order to ensure electrical safety, the EMSD has developed an intelligent detection system in 2021 to identify solar PV systems installed in Hong Kong by using artificial intelligence detection technology and digital orthophoto. Following the implementation of the detection system in [Q1] 2022, law enforcement actions against owners of RE systems who have not registered RE systems in accordance with the EO can be better facilitated. As illustrated in Figure 1, solar PV panels can be efficiently and effectively detected by the system. Apart from applying innovative technology to facilitate law enforcement work, the EMSD will continue to liaise with the two power companies to streamline the relevant processes and monitor the safety performance of RE systems.
Figure 1: Solar PV panels detected by the system
Charging facilities for electric vehicles
The Hong Kong Roadmap on Popularisation of Electric Vehicles, announced by the Environment Bureau in March 2021, sets out the vision of “Zero Carbon Emissions • Clean Air • Smart City” and the target of attaining zero vehicular emissions before 2050, in concert with Hong Kong’s efforts to strive for carbon neutrality within the same time frame. It has demonstrated the HKSARG’s unwavering determination and support in promoting wider adoption of EVs in order to reduce carbon and vehicular emissions concurrently.
In pushing forward Hong Kong’s transition to EVs, the establishment of an extensive charging network to support EVs is vital. A target has been set by the HKSARG to provide at least 5,000 public chargers and at least 150,000 parking spaces in private residential and commercial buildings equipped with EV charging infrastructure before 2025. To cope with the prospective increasing number of charging facilities for EVs, safety requirements on the installation of charging facilities have also been included in CoP 2020 edition, with the aim of facilitating the quick and safe deployment of EV charging facilities by the trade. The new Code 26S was therefore devised in CoP 2020 edition covering classification of charging modes as illustrated in Figure 2, fault protection requirement as shown in Figure 3, as well as provisions for diversity by adoption of load management systems (e.g. time-shared load management, static load management or dynamic load management) to cope with the power supply capacity constraints in existing buildings.
Figure 2: Classification of charging modes
Figure 3: Fault protection requirement
Climate change is already affecting the entire world, with extreme weather condition such as heat waves, heavy rain and more frequent storms. To save our planet and ourselves, we should act now and join hands with all stakeholders to get on the pathway to carbon neutrality. We could cocreate and co-innovate a new normal for living in a net-zero carbon planet.
Electricity is one of the major areas that we should look into for achieving deep decarbonisation, for example we may use cleaner fuel sources, more green and efficient generation, and advanced technologies on electrification of transportation. At the same time, electrical safety is important. There should be no difference between the old and new normal on electrical safety perspectives. Let’s all strive towards carbon neutrality and ensuring electrical safety together.