Special shine on reservoirs with solar panels

Local | Amy Nip and Jane Cheung 7 May 2018

The Water Services Department is looking into installing floating solar panels at various reservoirs.

Development chief Michael Wong Wai-lun noted that pilot schemes have been under way at Shek Pik and Plover Cove reservoirs, where 352 panels have been installed.

The solar system in Plover Cove has been operating for six months, while the one at Shek Pik has been in existence for over 12 months.

The panels can generate enough electricity for 36 households to use in a year.

Wong said the panels at Plover Cove were installed in the form of a ship, and it became a new place of interest for people to visit and take photographs.

Secretary for the Environment Wong Kam-sing noted that introducing solar panels at reservoirs can kill two birds with one stone. It can slow climate change as well as protect water resources by reducing the evaporation of water and controlling the growth of algae.

Leung Chi-fung, an assistant electrical engineer with the Water Supplies Department, said installing solar panels on water surface have a natural cooling effect on the devices and enhance their efficiency in generating electricity.

At the same time, panels on the reservoirs help reduce water evaporation.

The two solar systems will generate electricity in helping department facilities nearby and are expected to produce 120,000 units of electricity every year - equivalent to planting 420 trees or reducing carbon emissions by 84 tonnes.

Wong said the panels at each reservoir measure 1,100 square meters.

And the panels are made of glass that do not reflect sunlight and do not disturb wildlife.

The Drainage Services Department also has renewable energy facilities in place.

Siu Ho Wan Sewage Treatment Works boasts the largest solar farm in Hong Kong.

Going into operation in 2016, the farm has more than 4,200 polycrystalline photovoltaic panels with an installed generation capacity of 1,100 kilowatts.

It can generate as much as 1.1 million kilowatt-hours of electricity annually - enough to hand the demands of 230 households for a year. These panels also help reduce carbon dioxide emissions by 770 tonnes.

The electricity generated goes to various facilities inside the plant, including screening facilities, a workshop, an administration building, an ultra-violet disinfection system and sludge treatment facilities. That account for about 25 percent of the current annual electricity consumption of the plant and helps the government pay less in electricity charges.

Meanwhile, the Electrical and Mechanical Services Department is pushing for the existing air-conditioning systems in government buildings to be replaced by more energy efficient ones. Traditional lighting will also replaced by light-emitting diodes.

And old air-conditioning units in various hospitals will be replaced by magnetic bearing chillers, saving much electricity.

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