The utility of tomorrow points to a friendlier environment

Sun Feier

The utility of tomorrow points to a friendlier environment

HONG KONG - Although we come from a period where utilities were seen as part of the problem, the utility of tomorrow tends to be a part of the solution from an environmental friendly perspective, says Geert Peeters, executive director and chief financial officer of CLP Holdings.

“Rather than being part of the past problem of carbon generation, we see ourselves now basically as part of the solution,” he told China Daily in an interview on the sidelines of the 2019 Asian Financial Forum in Hong Kong.

“So, the utility of tomorrow is that the digital technology will enable us to deliver decarbonized energy to deal with decentralization, to be directly engaged with our customers and to do all that dynamically.”

CLP Holdings provides services in Kowloon, the New Territories and on Lantau Island.

The objective of decarbonization, Peeters explains, is a commitment starting from Europe, spilling over into the world and now in Asia. For utility companies, it means a more complex system needs to be managed and operated on.

Thanks to digital technologies, such as artificial intelligence and big data, those complex systems featuring low carbon and even zero carbon goals can be managed by human beings, he said.

Thus, CLP has also devoted to projects and startups across the Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao Greater Bay Area and in its secondary market, India, with an eye on the renewable energy blueprint.

For the Bay Area, said Peeters, CLP plans to set its footprint in exploring more low carbon energy and other new energy, smart use of energy, as well as the energy efficiency.

The company has already invested in Guangdong province with hydro plants and solar plants. It will also discuss with the SAR government to see if the city’s utility could import more low carbon or zero carbon energy from that region in future.

Together with the Alibaba Entrepreneurs Fund, CLP invested in En-trak — a Hong Kong energy management and smart lighting solutions provider — according to the company’s 2018 interim results announcement.

“Part of the utility of tomorrow is also to help our customers to be smarter in their use and be more in control of their energy,” said Peeters.

CLP is also collaborating with startups from the Silicon Valley and Tsinghua University in energy innovation.

By teaming up with Caisse de depot et placement du Québec — Canada’s second-biggest pension fund — the Hong Kong-based utility company will make joint investments in India aimed at “providing clean and affordable energy there”, said Peeters.

The commitment to reduce carbon emissions is now a common concept globally and Hong Kong is no exception.

By 2020, the HKSAR government aims to increase the use of natural gas in its fuel mix for power production to about 50 percent from less than a quarter in 2012.

“With the agreement we have with the city’s government, there’ll be a significant amount of investments that will be made in Hong Kong to lower the carbon intensity of our activity in the city,” Peeters said.