Energy in Hong Kong

Jonathan Mak
May 11, 2018

Submitted as coursework for PH240, Stanford University, Fall 2017


Fig. 1: A solar panel powers a lamp on top of Ma-On Shan. However, these solar lamps are used to power smaller devices like this rather than a shift towards powering the country. (Source: Wikimedia Commons)

Hong Kong is an administrative region just off the coast of China. Its population of 7.4 million ranks it the fourth most densely populated region in the world. [1] Given its demographic, naturally there are an abundant amount of skyscrapers and buildings to power. However, it's awkward geography situates this small region at the close to seawater but with very little land to actually expend towards energy production. It's lack of changing elevation prevents hydropower, and most other land is used towards economical development rather than research and development uses for energy production. As a result, Hong Kong needs to derive its energy supplies from external resources because of its lack of independent production. As technology continues to grow rapidly and energy expenditures increase, Hong Kong needs to be wary of where its primary costs come from, and how more sustainable decisions can be made.

Analyzing the Energy Scene

To evaluate the current situation, we need to keep in mind two major energy indicators which differ slightly because it is not able to provide its own energy: (1) Primary Energy Requirements (PER), and (2) Final Energy Requirements (FER). The PER represents the total supply that Hong Kong has available and its total import of energy, while the FER is how much is actually consumed. According to from 2006 to 2016, the PER increased by 5.7% (569,939 terajoules to 602,827 terajoules) but the final energy requirements (FER) also increased by 5% (311,945 terajoules to 327,226 terajoules). [2] From these numbers we notice very clearly that the FER is significantly lower than the PER, which is good because it shows that the energy imports into Hong Kong are still sustainable for the time being, despite the larger costs it continues to accumulate. The differences between the PER and FER are due to energy lost because of energy inefficiencies, but since the difference between the PER and FER remain relatively similar (both increased by ~5%, it shows that energy demands are still met. Now under Chinese rule once again, China seems to have rededicated efforts into funding for renewable energy, but glancing at Hong Kong, it doesn't seem to be the case. Fossil fuels still make up to 78% of its energy needs, and still lacks a strong political body to help rejuvenate the renewable energy scene in the island. [2] The pollution from the fossil fuels continues to add up as air quality gets worse, and the number of reported deaths due to air pollution continues to increase annually. Despite the longevity of solar energy used in the area (see Fig. 1), solar energy makes up a very minute part of the energy consumption, and is geared more towards private use rather than the public sector because of a lack of incentives for citizens and businesses alike to switch to a more renewable source.

Moving Forward

All numbers seem to suggest that white Hong Kong's current energy usage seems relatively stable, its citizens do not. In 2016, there were over 1,600 premature deaths from pollution, a side effect from the fact that a majority of its oil and coal fossil fuels find end use in the transportation and commercial sector. [3] All these greenhouse gases continue to rise back up into the atmosphere and back down, creating a constant cycle of pollution, though not as bad as major cities such as Beijing. While the government does not find enough incentive to improve on its energy usage and switch to more renewable sources, it's suffering population should be all the monetary incentive it needs to do so.

© Jonathan Mak. The author warrants that the work is the author's own and that Stanford University provided no input other than typesetting and referencing guidelines. The author grants permission to copy, distribute and display this work in unaltered form, with attribution to the author, for noncommercial purposes only. All other rights, including commercial rights, are reserved to the author.


[1] "Hong Kong Annual Digest of Statistics," Hong Kong Census and Statistics Department, 2017.

[2] "Hong Kong Energy Statistics: 2016 Annual Report," Hong Kong Department of Energy and Land, 2016.

[3] B. Haas, "Where the Wind Blows: How China's Dirty Air Becomes Hong Kong's Problem," The Guardian, 16 Feb 17.