HKUST Launches the Largest-Scale Solar Power System in Hong Kong
The Hong Kong University of Science and Technology (HKUST) has recently announced its latest commitment to being a sustainability leader in Hong Kong by launching a renewable energy project that will include the installation of up to 8,000 solar panels at over 50 locations on campus. It will be Hong Kong’s largest solar energy generation project when complete.
The project is coordinated by the Sustainability Unit with Prof. Davis BOOKHART, Head of Sustainability, and Prof. David BROWN, both are Adjunct Assistant Professors of the Division of Environment & Sustainability (ENVR), in the development team.
The system will generate up to 3 million units (kWh) of electricity each year - equivalent to the annual electricity consumption of more than 900 three-member households in Hong Kong1, and reduce 1.5 million kg of carbon emission per annum over a 25-year period.
By joining CLP’s Renewable Energy Feed-in Tariff (FiT) Scheme, the project will generate around $160 million up to the end of the FiT Scheme in 2033. After paying off the costs of the installation, HKUST will receive an average of $4 million per year that will be reinvested in further campus energy efficiency and greenhouse gas reduction projects. The first phase of construction began last month and the project will continue through 2021.
The Division of Environment & Sustainability (ENVR) played a special role in the project in serving as the liaison between the University and the HKSAR Government, particularly the Environment Bureau. The close contacts and good relations between ENVR and the Environment Bureau were very helpful in gaining support from the HKSAR Government, ensuring that the HKSAR Government is clear about the project goals, and smoothing out the approval processes.
This project was developed under the University’s sustainability strategic plan, the HKUST 2020 Sustainability Challenge set in 2016, where the university has been identifying large scale initiatives to reduce energy, greenhouse gases, and waste. Taking the opportunity of the FiT Scheme – which encourages the community to develop distributed renewable energy systems – HKUST will install thousands of best-in-class and highly-efficient monocrystalline solar panels, including both the conventional and flexible thin film PV panels.
We will be working with Widex Technology Development Limited – one of the most experienced solar power project developers in Hong Kong – to install the solar PV systems at more than 50 campus locations, including student and staff residences, academic and research blocks as well as sports and transport complexes.
The Secretary for the Environment, Mr. WONG Kam-sing, said, “The HKUST’s large scale solar energy generation system is well recognised and serves as an excellent model. The project not only supports Hong Kong's transition towards a low-carbon society but also attempts to integrate research and education on environmental innovation and technology in a meaningful way. The HKUST has distinguished itself as an inspiring exemplar to the younger generation! Hong Kong is committed to implementing the Hong Kong's Climate Action Plan 2030+ and exploring the long-term deep decarbonisation strategy. I look forward to seeing HKUST proactively take up the leading role of climate action and further demonstrate stronger support for clean energy, green building and energy saving, and waste reduction etc. Let's join hands in mitigating climate change.”
Prof. Davis BOOKHART, Head of Sustainability and Adjunct Assistant Professors of ENVR, said, “We don’t have any obvious large locations for solar, but we were excited to discover lots of overlooked small spaces that really added up. Our team and Widex worked well together to find areas of opportunity we never thought possible. With our peer institutions engaging in similar efforts, the higher education sector has a real chance to set a positive example for the sustainable development of Hong Kong.”
In moving forward, ENVR will continue to play a bridging role between the University and the Environment Bureau, and use the project as a living laboratory for faculty and students to test out their ideas and projects related to solar energy systems.