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Special Feature

Understanding Smart Energy Transitions as a New Source of Distrust:
The Perspectives of Hong Kong Citizens on the Risks of Regional Intercity Energy Collaboration in the Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao Greater Bay Area (GBA)

Darren Man-wai Cheung, Daphne Ngar-yin Mah, Alice Siu, Benjamin C. McLellan, Shinya Wakao Victor Wai Yin Lam and and Glenn Hin-fan Lee
p. 31-41

Abstract

Hong Kong has an ambitious carbon neutral goal to meet by 2050. Achieving this goal requires a departure from a traditional city-scale centralised, fossil fuel-based energy infrastructure to a more decentralised, locally-generated renewable energy (RE) while expanding the regional intercity smart grid system to accommodate RE import in the Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao Greater Bay Area (GBA). Such energy transitions inevitably bring new social challenges, but how Hong Kong citizens perceive such transitions in the GBA context is not well studied. This study draws on quantitative and qualitative data derived from an online deliberative poll (DP) (N = 174) on smart energy transitions. We have four key findings. Firstly, citizens showed a low level of trust in the national, provincial, and city governments whilst a high level of trust towards the incumbent electricity companies. Secondly, citizens showed distrust to the governments, suspecting that the genuine motives of the governments were to prioritise regional RE import over local RE production. Thirdly, citizens raised concerns over five types of risks (price volatility risks, energy reliability risks, cost overrun risks, data privacy risks, and environmental risks) that contributed to new sources of public distrust in governments’ competence. Fourthly, the public distrust toward multilevel governments was found to be underpinned by demographic factors (age group and family size) and a sociopolitical context of recent social movements against government policies. Our findings suggest that policymakers in the GBA need to give sufficient attention to enhancing public trust, and thereby the policy legitimacy of regional smart energy transitions.

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Editor’s notes

Manuscript received on 16 November 2021. Accepted on 19 July 2022.

Excerpt

Full text document will be published online on September 2023.

Outline

Introduction
The theoretical perspectives of smart energy transitions, regional intercity collaboration, and trust
Smart energy transition: The local and regional opportunities
Public perception of risks in smart energy transitions
The role of trust in managing risk perception
Public perception of policy issues and trust in China
Hong Kong and the Greater Bay Area (GBA) contexts
Methodology
Findings
Low level of trust among different levels of government
Distrust in governments’ motives in prioritising local RE production over regional RE import
Five major risks as new sources of public distrust in governments’ competence
Demographic and sociopolitical contextual factors underpinned the public distrust
Conclusions

First lines

Introduction

Achieving carbon neutrality by 2050 is a shared target for major cities in the world. However, such decarbonisation goals were only able to limit global warming at about 2.4°C above preindustrial levels, in contrast to below 1.5°C as recommended by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) special report in 2018 (Mah et al. 2022b). These findings have prompted major cities to pursue more ambitious decarbonisation policies to deal with climate impacts.

Smart energy transitions have created new opportunities for realising ambitious carbon neutrality goals. Through integrating information and communication technologies (ICT) into conventional grid systems, energy transitions can utilise smart grid technologies (including smart meters, distributed energy storage systems, and renewable energy RE sources) to better control real-time supply-side and demand-side energy management and enhance energy efficiency and energy security (Mah et al. 2022b). Smart energy tra...

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References

Bibliographical reference

Darren Man-wai Cheung, Daphne Ngar-yin Mah, Alice Siu, Benjamin C. McLellan, Shinya Wakao Victor Wai Yin Lam and and Glenn Hin-fan Lee, “Understanding Smart Energy Transitions as a New Source of Distrust:
The Perspectives of Hong Kong Citizens on the Risks of Regional Intercity Energy Collaboration in the Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao Greater Bay Area (GBA)”
China Perspectives, 2022/3 | 2022, 31-41.

Electronic reference

Darren Man-wai Cheung, Daphne Ngar-yin Mah, Alice Siu, Benjamin C. McLellan, Shinya Wakao Victor Wai Yin Lam and and Glenn Hin-fan Lee, “Understanding Smart Energy Transitions as a New Source of Distrust:
The Perspectives of Hong Kong Citizens on the Risks of Regional Intercity Energy Collaboration in the Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao Greater Bay Area (GBA)”
China Perspectives [Online], 2022/3 | 2022, Online since 01 September 2023, connection on 27 November 2022. URL: http://journals.openedition.org/chinaperspectives/14083; DOI: https://doi.org/10.4000/chinaperspectives.14083

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