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

Nigeria Incumbent in Tight Spot as Poll Nears

Muhammadu Buhari is running a strong challenge to Goodluck Jonathan, amid a faltering economy and Boko Haram security worries More

Video Liberia's Almost Last Ebola Patient Grateful but Still Grieving

Beatrice Yardolo tells VOA that despite her fame, life is still a struggle as she waits for government's promise of support to arrive More

Video Cambodian Land Grabs Threaten Traditional Communities

At least seven different indigenous groups in Ratanakiri depend mainly on forest products for their survival, say they face loss of their land, traditional way of life 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.
Liberia's Almost Last Ebola Patient Grateful but Still Grievingi
X
Benno Muchler
March 26, 2015 3:41 PM
Beatrice Yardolo was to make history as Liberia’s last Ebola patient. Liberians recently started counting down 42 days, the period that has to go by without a single new infection until the World Health Organization can declare a country Ebola-free. That countdown stopped on March 20 when there was another new case of Ebola, making Yardolo’s story a reminder that Ebola is far from over. Benno Muchler reports from Monrovia.
Video

Video Liberia's Almost Last Ebola Patient Grateful but Still Grieving

Beatrice Yardolo was to make history as Liberia’s last Ebola patient. Liberians recently started counting down 42 days, the period that has to go by without a single new infection until the World Health Organization can declare a country Ebola-free. That countdown stopped on March 20 when there was another new case of Ebola, making Yardolo’s story a reminder that Ebola is far from over. Benno Muchler reports from Monrovia.
Video

Video Cambodian Land Grabs Threaten Traditional Communities

Indigenous communities in Cambodia's Ratanakiri province say the government’s economic land concession policy is taking away their land and traditional way of life, making many fear that their identity will soon be lost. Local authorities, though, have denied this is the case. VOA's Say Mony went to investigate and filed this report, narrated by Colin Lovett.
Video

Video US, South Korea Conduct Joint Military Exercises

The Eighth U.S. Army Division and the Eighth Republic of Korea Mechanized Infantry Division put on a well orchestrated show of force for the media this week during their joint military training exercises in South Korea. VOA’s Seoul correspondent Brian Padden was there and reports the soldiers were well disciplined both in conducting a complex live fire exercise and in staying on message with the press.
Video

Video Space Program Status Disappoints 'Last Man on the Moon'

One of the films that drew big crowds last week at the annual South by Southwest festival in Austin, Texas, tells the story of the last human being to stand on the moon, U.S. astronaut Eugene Cernan. It has been 42 years since Cernan returned from the moon and he laments that no one else has gone there since. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports.
Video

Video Young Filmmakers Shine Spotlight on Giving Back

A group of student filmmakers from across the United States joined President Barack Obama at the White House this month for the second annual White House Student Film Festival. Fifteen short films were officially selected from more than 1,500 entries by students aged 6 through 18. The filmmakers and their families then joined the president and a group of celebrities for a screening of their films. VOA’s Julie Taboh reports.
Video

Video VOA Exclusive: Interview with Afghan President Ashraf Ghani

Afghan President Ashraf Ghani, during his first visit as president to Washington, gave a one-on-one interview with VOA Afghan Service reporter Said Suleiman Ashna, about his request for a change in U.S. troop levels, the threat from the Islamic State, and repairing relations with the United States and Pakistan. The interview was held at Blair House, late Sunday, in Pashto.
Video

Video California Science Center Tells Story of Dead Sea Scrolls

The ancient manuscripts were uncovered in the mid-20th century, and they are still yielding clues about life and religious beliefs in ancient Israel. As VOA's Mike O'Sullivan reports, an exhibit in Los Angeles shows how modern science is bringing the history of these ancient documents to life.
Video

Video Angelina Jolie Takes Another Bold Step

Hollywood actress and filmmaker Angelina Jolie has revealed she had her ovaries and fallopian tubes removed to lower her odds of getting cancer. Doctors say the huge publicity over her decision will help raise awareness about the importance of cancer screening. VOA’s George Putic has more

All About America

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More