Hong Kong Electric Pulls A Cheap Green PR Stunt...

OK, enough fishy stuff for now.

It's back to business, but you can't pull the wool over my eyes.

Hong Kong Electric organized a press tour to the Lamma (coal-fired) Power Station today, but the coal mountain you see above was not on the official itinerary.

No, today was all about how old Li Ka-shing was supposed to be scoring tons of greenie points. How? By sticking a few solar panels on the roof of his power station on Lamma Island.

Apparently the solar panels can supply 150 Hong Kong families sustainable electricity for a year, and offset 520 tonnes of carbon dioxide in the process. All well and good, I hear you say. You've got to start somewhere. But "0.01% of total output" and "miniscule" were words I kept hearing other journos mutter.

Indeed, today's event did look a lot like lip service. Call me cynical, but I think it was more about style than substance. Like the guy in the white overalls. He was not actually doing anything. He wasn't fixing those panels. He was just there for the photographers benefit.

A possible caption to the above photo could read something like this: "A set up photo contrived by local media shows a Hong Kong Electric (HEC) employee doing nothing in particular at a cheap PR stunt organised by the monopolistic provider of electricity to the captive Hong Kong masses, in order to gain credibility and win over gullible green groups and an even more gullible public, Hong Kong, China, 29 July 2010."

I really hate it when, as a member of the media, you get made to feel used and abused by a big conglomerate. Even when they do have bird poo on their solar panels.

So I took solace in some great light.

In the distance you can see the berths where coal is unloaded from ships.

If you have ever wondered what the inside of Lamma Power Station looks like, this is it. A space to put huge boilers in.

The power station was built in 1980 by Mitsubishi Heavy Industries of Japan.

I love stuff like this. It's a bit like being in a James Bond film. Or 'The Prisoner'. Or something.

I have no idea what those blue things are, or who this guy is, or what he is doing.

What I do know is they don't make interiors like this any more. Late Seventies, early Eighties, utilitarian chic. Tyler Brûlé, eat your heart out.

So once the cheap solar panel thriller was over, I somehow 'lost' the press pack. And on the way out, I accidentally-on-purposely found my way to the coal storage area.

Once there, I recalled that Hong Kong has the second highest per capita carbon footprint in the world. Coal is coal, filthy as ever. Something that the PR forgot to tell us as we all gawked at their lovely brand new solar panels.

And that, dear reader, has to be my most cynical blog post to date!

ALEX HOFFORD : HONG KONG CHINA PHOTOGRAPHER

All images and text © Alex Hofford / Image Solutions Ltd. 2011 | Web design in Hong Kong by Ugli © 2011