News / Asia

Hong Kong Golfers Tee Off With World's First Hybrid Ferry Fleet

With air pollution clouding life in Hong Kong, the territory's only public golf course is taking innovative steps to help alleviate the problem.

By World Health Organization standards, Hong Kong's air is so polluted it is only safe to breathe 41 days a year. Cars and power stations, as well as factories in southern China, are blamed for the haze.

But scientists say ships also damage the air in this city, home to one of the world's busiest ports. Marine transportation is now responsible for almost 10 percent of the pollution. C.M. Wong, a public health expert at the University of Hong Kong, has been studying local air quality for nearly 20 years.

"Hong Kong is an important port," said C.M. Wong. "Marine traffic becomes a very major part of air pollution in Hong Kong. They burn things called residual oil or bunker fuel oil. This fuel has a very high sulfur content. The problem is growing."

Sulfur dioxide, says Dr. Wong, is a significant cause of heart and lung disease. His team estimates that sulfur dioxide, along with ozone, nitrogen dioxide and particulate matter, cost Hong Kong $2.2 billion a year in hospitalization costs and lost productivity. In 2010, they say, air pollution has already caused 480 premature deaths.

But one vessel might kick-start the effort to clean up Hong Kong's sea air - the sleek blue and yellow catamaran, the Solar Golf.

The 100-seat boat recently began operating as the world's first commercial hybrid ferry service, here in this island-dotted territory. It runs between Hong Kong Island and a public golf course on Kau Sai Chau Island.

It will soon be joined by three sister ships, one of which is equipped as a floating classroom to teach children more about renewable energy.

"The vessels have hybrid solar-power electrical and diesel engines, which can operate in parallel to save up to 50 percent in fuel consumption and about HK$2.5 million (US$320,000) a year in operating costs in comparison with the existing ferries," said Gillian Leung, the golf course spokeswoman. "Lightweight materials in the hull help save energy and the solar panels will last at least 15 years."

The captain, Leung Kam-yiu, gives a pre-departure briefing and he's very excited because today is the first time he has taken sole command of the Solar Golf.

He also explained more about how the parallel engine system works: out at sea the ferry uses low-sulfur diesel fuel, and in coastal waters, the crew switches to the solar-charged electric "E" motor to minimize on-shore noise and air pollution.

The new ferries are by no means Kau Sai Chau's only green initiative. All 205 golf carts on the course have also been converted to solar power.

Combined, Leung estimates the new ferries and golf carts will reduce carbon dioxide emissions by 1,280 tons a year - the equivalent annual absorption of 188,000 mature pine trees.

Prentice Koo of Hong Kong Greenpeace thinks that, although comparatively small, Kau Sai Chau's efforts are important because the government response to the renewable energy debate has been weak.

"The government only has a policy recommendation to achieve one to two percent renewable energy by 2012," said Koo. "It's very low target compared with China."

He says the government needs to do better. The investment, Koo says, is in the well-being of future generations.

You May Like

Missouri Town Braces for Possible Racial Unrest

Situation in Ferguson hinges on whether white police officer will be indicted for August shooting death of unarmed black teen; decision could come Monday More

Video Ukraine Marks Anniversary of 1930s Deadly Famine

President Poroshenko compares Soviet-era ‘genocide’ to current tactics of pro-Russia rebels in Ukraine's east More

S. Philippines Convictions Elusive 5 Years After Election-related Killings

Officials vowed to deliver justice as the nation marked the anniversary of the country's worst political massacre that left 58 dead, more than half media More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Ukraine Marks Anniversary of Deadly 1930s Faminei
X
Daniel Schearf
November 23, 2014 4:32 PM
During a commemoration for millions who died of starvation in Ukraine in the early 1930s, President Petro Poroshenko lashed out at Soviet-era totalitarianism for causing the deaths and accused today’s Russian-backed rebels in the east of using similar tactics. VOA’s Daniel Shearf reports from Kyiv.
Video

Video Ukraine Marks Anniversary of Deadly 1930s Famine

During a commemoration for millions who died of starvation in Ukraine in the early 1930s, President Petro Poroshenko lashed out at Soviet-era totalitarianism for causing the deaths and accused today’s Russian-backed rebels in the east of using similar tactics. VOA’s Daniel Shearf reports from Kyiv.
Video

Video Hong Kong Protests at a Crossroads

New public opinion polls in Hong Kong indicate declining support for pro-democracy demonstrations after weeks of street protests. VOA’s Bill Ide in Guangzhou and Pros Laput in Hong Kong spoke with protesters and observers about whether demonstrators have been too aggressive in pushing for change.
Video

Video Law Enforcement, Activists in Ferguson Agree to Keep Peace

Authorities in Ferguson, Missouri, say they have agreed with protest leaders to maintain peace when a grand jury reaches its decision on whether to indict a white police officer in the shooting death of a black teenager. Ferguson, a suburb of St. Louis, has been the scene of intermittent violence since the August 9 shooting intensified long-simmering antagonism between the police and the African-American community. VOA's Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video US Immigration Relief Imminent for Mixed-Status Families

Tens of thousands of undocumented immigrants in the Washington, D.C., area may benefit from a controversial presidential order announced this week. It's not a path to citizenship, as some activists hoped. But it will allow more immigrants who arrived as children or who have citizen children, to avoid deportation and work legally. VOA's Victoria Macchi talks with one young man who benefited from an earlier presidential order, and whose parents may now benefit after years of living in fear.
Video

Video New Skateboard Defies Gravity

A futuristic dream only a couple of decades ago, the hoverboard – a skateboard that floats above the ground - has finally been made possible. While still not ready for mass production, it promises to become a cool mode of transport... at least over some surfaces. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Falling Gas Prices Impact US Oil Extraction

With the price of oil now less than $80 a barrel, motorists throughout the United States are benefiting from gas prices below $3 a gallon. But as VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, the decreasing price of petroleum has a downside for the hydraulic fracturing industry in the United States.
Video

Video Tensions Build on Korean Peninsula Amid Military Drills

It has been another tense week on the Korean peninsula as Pyongyang threatened to again test nuclear weapons while the U.S. and South Korean forces held joint military exercises in a show of force. VOA’s Brian Padden reports from the Kunsan Air Base in South Korea.
Video

Video Mama Sarah Obama Honored at UN Women’s Entrepreneurship Day

President Barack Obama's step-grandmother is in the United States to raise money to build a $12 million school and hospital center in Kogelo, Kenya, the birthplace of the president's father, Barack Obama, Sr. She was honored for her decades of work to aid poor Kenyans at a Women's Entrepreneurship Day at the United Nations.
Video

Video Gay Evangelicals Argue That Bible Does Not Condemn Homosexuality

More than 30 U.S. states now recognize same-sex marriages, and an increasing number of mainline American churches are blessing them. But evangelical church members- which account for around 30 percent of the U.S. adult population - believe the Bible unequivocally condemns homosexuality. VOA's Jerome Socolovsky reports that gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender evangelicals are coming out. Backed by a prominent evangelical scholar, they argue that the traditional reading of the bible is wrong.
Video

Video Ebola Economic Toll Stirs W. Africa Food Security Concerns

The World Bank said Wednesday that it expects the economic impact of the Ebola outbreak on the sub-Saharan economy to cost somewhere betweenf $3 billion to $4 billion - well below a previously-outlined worst-case scenario of $32 billion. Some economists, however, paint a gloomier picture - warning that the disruption to regional markets and trading is considerable. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Chaos, Abuse Defy Solution in Libya

The political and security crisis in Libya is deepening, with competing governments and, according to Amnesty International, widespread human rights violations committed with impunity. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London.
Video

Video US Hosts Record 866,000 Foreign Students

Close to 900,000 international students are studying at American universities and colleges, more than ever before. About half of them come from Asia, mostly China. The United States hosts more foreign students than any other country in the world, and its foreign student population is steadily growing. Zlatica Hoke reports.

All About America

AppleAndroid