Hong Kong Needs ‘Dedicated Nuclear’ From China, Says Society

Posted by NucNet on 5 June 2014 in NucNet

Hong Kong’s electricity supply will be more reliable and cost-competitive if it increases the amount of nuclear energy it imports from China through dedicated transmission lines, the Hong Kong Nuclear Society said.

HKNS said it supports using more nuclear energy, but buying electricity from the China Southern Grid (CSG) – one of the options proposed by the government – does not provide the desired level of reliability, environmental performance and cost efficiency.

In response to the government’s public consultation on Hong Kong’s future energy mix, HKNS has instead proposed that 30 percent of the special administrative region of China’s electricity comes from a designated nuclear power plant via dedicated transmission lines, mirroring the current arrangement with Daya Bay nuclear power station in neighbouring Guangdong province.

Under the Daya Bay transmission model, Hong Kong has the ability to disconnect from the Guangdong grid in an emergency grid outage while still ensuring that output from the station is safely transmitted to customers in Hong Kong.

HKNS said there is a gap between Hong Kong and CSG-supplied areas in terms of reliability, and it is “deeply concerned” about how the grid-to-grid interconnection proposed by the government can maintain reliability in Hong Kong in the event of blackouts or network problems at CSG. This is an issue that has been left unaddressed in the consultation document, HKNS said.

HKNS said CSG is a power network operator rather than an electricity producer and should Hong Kong buy electricity from CSG, it will have “no means of knowing which plant supplies Hong Kong and its consequential environmental footprint or the final price payable by Hong Kong customers”.

“The mainland authorities will amend fuel costs, on-grid pricing, transmission charges and other costs from time to time. We will also be unable to monitor the plant’s operation and safety performance,” HKNS said.

According to the consultation document, published in March 2014, Hong Kong is considering sourcing another 30 percent of its electricity supply from mainland China – on top of the 23 percent that already comes from Daya Bay – and will not phase out or reduce its imports of nuclear energy.

The government said about 77 percent of Hong Kong’s electricity needs are met by local generation, with the remaining 23 percent imported through a dedicated transmission line from Daya Bay, which has two pressurised water reactor units.

But the percentage imported from Daya Bay is likely to fall to 20 percent by the early 2020s as overall electricity consumption is expected to gradually increase.

Hong Kong utility China Light and Power is already making arrangements to import an additional 10 percent of electricity from Daya Bay in an effort to mitigate the impact of tariff increases over the next couple of years.