| | Eng
2022-11-09 15:40:00
LCQ17: Use of electric vehicles
     Following is a question by the Hon Shiu Ka-fai and a written reply by the Secretary for Environment and Ecology, Mr Tse Chin-wan, in the Legislative Council today (November 9):
     Some members of the public have relayed that the number of electric private cars (e-PCs) has increased substantially in recent years, but the provision of ancillary charging facilities and the number of repair mechanics have fallen short of the demand, and that retired electric vehicle (EV) batteries (retired batteries) must also be handled properly. In this connection, will the Government inform this Council:
(1) whether it has estimated the growth in the number of e-PCs in the coming three years, and whether it has assessed if the supply of standard, medium and quick chargers for public use can meet the demand arising from the increase in the number of e-PCs;
(2) whether it has compiled statistics on the current respective usages of standard, medium and quick chargers from 8am to 10pm every day; if so, of the outcome; if not, the reasons for that and whether it will compile such statistics;
(3) whether it has compiled statistics on the current numbers of EV repair workshops and repair mechanics in Hong Kong; whether it has reviewed the safety and equipment requirements for EV repair workshops, as well as the technical and professional qualifications required of repair mechanics; of the measures in place to ensure that such repair workshops meet the relevant requirements and such repair mechanics possess the required technical and professional qualifications; and
(4) whether it has drawn up procedures for the handling of retired batteries by e-PC owners; if so, of the details (including the fees); of the measures in place to prevent illegal disposal of retired batteries by such owners?
     Hong Kong is a densely populated city with highly compact urban areas. Adoption of electric vehicles (EVs) in Hong Kong comes with challenges unique to the city, including setting up appropriate charging infrastructure and identifying models of EVs that are suitable for local application. The Government promulgated the Hong Kong Roadmap on Popularisation of Electric Vehicles (the Roadmap) last year, setting out clear strategies for promoting the use of EVs. According to the policy directions set out in the Roadmap, the Government will continue the expansion of EV charging network, training of mechanics and technicians, and recycling of retired EV batteries. In the meantime, the Government will make better use of the existing first registration tax concession arrangements for EVs and the One-for-One Replacement Scheme for electric private cars (PCs) to promote the transition to EVs without stimulating vehicular growth.
     In consultation with the Electrical and Mechanical Services Department, my reply to the question raised by the Hon Shiu Ka-fai is as follows:
(1) Driven by various government policies, the percentage of electric PCs among all newly registered PCs has soared in recent years from 6.3 per cent in 2019, 12.4 per cent in 2020, 24.4 per cent in 2021 to 45.5 per cent in the first three quarters of 2022, representing that almost one out of every two newly registered PCs is electric. As at the end of September 2022, the number of electric PCs in Hong Kong was about 39 000, accounting for 5.9 per cent of the total number of PCs in Hong Kong. It is roughly estimated that the number of electric PCs could reach about 80 000 by 2025 if the growth rate maintains in the next few years.
     To meet the charging demand arising from the growth of electric PCs, the Government is actively expanding private and public charging network. As regards private charging network, the Government is encouraging the provision of EV charging-enabling infrastructure in existing residential buildings and new private buildings through the EV-charging at Home Subsidy Scheme and granting of gross floor area concessions respectively, with the target of having at least 150 000 parking spaces equipped with relevant infrastructure in 2025 or earlier.
     Regarding public charging network, there are a total of about 5 300 public chargers in Hong Kong. According to the target set in the Chief Executive's 2022 Policy Address, the Government will increase the proportion of parking spaces with EV chargers from 30 per cent to 100 per cent in government premises just completed or to be soon completed, and expects to provide 7 000 additional parking spaces with EV chargers in the next three years. To continue provide impetus for the market development of public charging services, the Government is also preparing for the conversion of petrol filling stations into quick charging stations and the marketisation of charging services. On the other hand, the promulgation of the Roadmap has also encouraged private sectors such as property developers, private operators of public car parks and charging service providers, etc to proactively develop their EV charging network. With the above-mentioned measures in place and the positive responses from the private sectors, it is expected that the existing and new EV charging facilities will be able to meet the charging demand of local electric PCs.
(2) We have not yet started collecting data on the usage of government chargers at specified periods. Nevertheless, with the gradual launch of the Government's smart EV charging system within the next three years, we will be able to collect more comprehensive and accurate charging data of each charger at specified periods for detailed analysis.
(3) The Government launched the Voluntary Registration Scheme for Vehicle Mechanics and the Voluntary Registration Scheme for Vehicle Maintenance Workshops in 2007 and 2015 respectively, with the aim of enhancing the service standards of the local vehicle maintenance industry. As at September 2022, the number of registered vehicle maintenance mechanics under the Voluntary Registration Scheme for Vehicle Maintenance Mechanics reached 8 237, accounting for about 79.9 per cent of the total number of vehicle mechanics in Hong Kong, while the number of registered vehicle maintenance workshops under the Voluntary Registration Scheme for Vehicle Maintenance Workshops was 2 050, accounting for about 73.7 per cent of the total number of vehicle maintenance workshops in Hong Kong. 
     In line with the Roadmap, the Hong Kong's Climate Action Plan 2050 and the latest development of EVs, the Vehicle Maintenance Technical Advisory Committee set up by the Government in collaboration with the trade has proposed that a class of specific services should be added under the existing voluntary registration schemes for mechanics and workshops engaging in the maintenance of EVs. In this connection, the Government is discussing with the trade, training institutes and other stakeholders about the requirements, detailed arrangements and the implementation timeline for the voluntary registration of EV maintenance mechanics and workshops. Eligible EV maintenance mechanics and workshops may apply for registration under the respective class of services in the future. In fact, the Government has been actively collaborating with stakeholders to promote and support the training of EV technicians and mechanics. Currently, the Vocational Training Council offers full-time training programmes on automobile maintenance, and is also planning to set up a dedicated EV training workshop to train up more competent mechanics to tie in with the development of the EV industry.
(4) Retired EV batteries (or waste EV batteries) are chemical waste regulated under the Waste Disposal Ordinance (Cap. 354) and its subsidiary Waste Disposal (Chemical Waste) (General) Regulation (Cap. 354C). Currently, EVs are generally maintained and repaired by EV suppliers or designated maintenance workshops, and the level of fee charged for repair and maintenance is a business decision of individual supplier. 
     Under the current legislation, if the EV suppliers or designated maintenance workshops produce waste batteries, they must register as chemical waste producers (CWPs) with the Environmental Protection Department (EPD), and arrange for the appropriate packaging, labelling and storage of waste batteries, as well as the hiring of licensed chemical waste collectors to collect and deliver waste batteries to licensed chemical waste disposal facilities for proper preliminary treatment (e.g. sorting, discharging and insulating). After obtaining consents from the states of import, the waste batteries will be exported to treatment facilities overseas (e.g. South Korea and Japan) authorised by the competent authorities of the respective states of import for recycling. We have also been reminding EV suppliers of the relevant legislative requirements, so as to ensure proper disposal of the waste EV batteries. In the past three years, no illegal disposal of waste EV batteries was detected.
     The number of retired EV batteries remains small at this stage. As EVs become more popular, there will be more retired EV batteries. The Roadmap sets the policy direction of the introduction of a producer responsibility scheme (PRS) to further ensure the proper collection and handling of retired EV batteries. We are liaising with the trade and stakeholders (including EV suppliers, EV repairing workshops, vehicle owner associations, EV battery recyclers), and will conduct a consultation on the detailed proposal of the PRS next year, with a view to its early implementation.
Ends/Wednesday, November 9, 2022
Issued at HKT 15:40

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