Hong Kong gives nod to 200MW offshore wind farm

Hong Kong’s environmental regulatory agency has approved a 200-megawatt (MW), HK$7bn ($903m) offshore wind farm, which would become the first major offshore wind farm ever built in Asia.

The project, which would produce an estimated 1% of Hong Kong’s needed electricity, has come under criticism from groups who claim its benefits would be dwarfed by its environmental toll. The plans call for the construction of 67 turbines less than 10km off Hong Kong’s Clearwater Bay.

But the developers, Hong Kong’s CLP Holdings and UK-based Wind Prospect, have slowly built support for the project, both in the public and private sector. Hong Kong has set a target of generating 1%-2% of its electricity from renewable sources by 2012.

With the Environmental Impact Assessment now under its belt, the developers have moved a step closer to scoring a financing package and starting preliminary construction work.

“The next phase of the project is the installation of a wind mast at the proposed site, followed by the collection of on-site wind and wave data,” says Alex Tancock, general manager of Wind Prospect HK. “We hope a full business case will be ready for assessment by 2011.”

Wind Prospect began a feasibility study on the project in 2005, with CLP joining as partner in 2006. A 30-day public consultation on the project ended in early July, with CLP claiming that the majority of the public feedback it received was positive.

CLP is the largest electrical utility in Hong Kong, as well as the largest outside investor into mainland China’s electricity industry. CLP holds a diverse energy portfolio encompassing gas, coal, nuclear and renewables.

UK-headquartered Wind Prospect claims to have brought 45 wind farms totalling 1,131MW through the consenting process worldwide, with another 1,200MW in the pipeline. Among its most high-profile achievements is the 90MW Burbo Bank off the coast of northwest England, now owned by Dong.