Home Optimal energy Special Feature – “Macau is highly unlikely to be a sustainable and energy efficient city in the short to medium term.”

Special Feature – “Macau is highly unlikely to be a sustainable and energy efficient city in the short to medium term.”

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Environmental scientist Wai Ming To is skeptical about the development of solar or wind power in Macau. Rather, he argues that the city can do a little better by adopting smart / intelligent building systems that optimize the use of electricity for air conditioning and heating of air and water.

MB September 2021 Special Report | Macao Green


For the first time, a Macau-based scholar has been included in the top 2% of the world’s top scientists based on the impact of citations for the year 2019. Professor Wai Ming To of the Macau Polytechnic Institute has comments research interests encompassing science, technology and environmental management, energy analysis, total quality management and service management, among others. Macau Affairs interviewed Professor To, who said “Macau is very unlikely to be a sustainable and energy efficient city in the short to medium term.”

Limited space, high population density and an economy based on mass tourism, will these factors prevent Macao from being a “beautiful city of recreation”, or is it still possible to make Macao the site of sustainable development?

Wai Ming To – The factors listed in your question – limited space (the area of ​​Macau is about 30 km2), a high population density and an economy based on mass tourism – will certainly have a negative effect on Macau as a “beautiful city of recreation” from the point of view of residents and tourists. With its limited resources, Macau should focus on “sustainable” development and not “sustainable” development focused primarily on economic growth without recognizing the existence of limited carrying capacity – a limit to what Macau can support. . In fact, a local higher education institution estimated that Macau’s optimal tourist capacity is less than 110,000 people per day, or 40.1 million people per year. It was reported that among the 104 days surveyed in 2017, the number of visitors per day exceeded the optimal daily rate on 21 of those days (around 20% of the days surveyed).

Do you think Macau’s biggest environmental problem is the effects of excess municipal solid waste, or are there other bigger issues?

WMT – People, including residents and tourists alike, generate a huge amount of municipal solid waste. However, solid waste may not be obvious to most people as an environmental problem. Macau’s environmental complaints mainly concerned noise issues such as community noise (around 8,000 cases in 2020) and air pollution such as oily fumes from commercial kitchens (around 260 cases in 2020). Community noise and atmospheric pollution directly affect the well-being of residents and constitute a nuisance.

“People have been educated to practice ‘reduce, reuse, recycle’ (the 3R principle) for years. Unfortunately, they have rarely put the principle into practice over the past twenty years.

Waste collection station at Inner Harbor

Is it because people do not take the solid waste problem seriously that it is not being mitigated? Is there a lack of collective consciousness?

WMT – Municipal solid waste is mainly transferred to the Macao incineration plant for treatment. Most residents put their waste in the waste collection units and forget about their impact on the environment. People have been educated to practice “reduce, reuse, recycle” (the 3R principle) for years. Unfortunately, they rarely put the principle into practice over the past two decades, when Macau’s economy was good and people had more and more money to spend. It’s a lack of collective consciousness, as you said.

Now let’s talk about renewable energies: do you think Macao can (in the medium term) be a sustainable and energy efficient city?

WMT – Macau is a small city with many high rise buildings. Thus, solar energy is not efficient due to the shading effect of adjacent buildings and the low ratio of roof area to total floor area. In addition, Macau does not have an onshore / offshore wind farm capable of producing a steady supply of electricity. The only way Macau can do a little better is to adopt smart / smart building systems that optimize the use of electricity for air conditioning and heating of air and water. This means that Macau is highly unlikely to be a sustainable and energy efficient city in the short to medium term.

“Solar energy is not efficient due to the shading effect of adjacent buildings and the low ratio of roof area to total floor area”

The central government allocated 85 square kilometers of territorial waters to Macau in 2015. Does this represent an opportunity to build offshore wind farms?

WMT – The construction of an offshore wind farm requires substantial investment from the Macau government and the Macau Power Company (i.e. CEM). In addition, a team of experts should be appointed to assess whether an offshore wind farm is feasible within 85 km.2 territorial waters allocated to Macao by the central government.

Do you think that the most decisive role (for changing habits) belongs to the Government or to the citizens? Is there sufficient awareness of these issues in Macau?

WMT – The Macao government is playing a bigger role in promoting environmental awareness. The Macau government should work closely with educational institutions (from kindergartens to higher education institutions) to improve environmental awareness among the next generations.


Among the 2% of the best scientists in the world

Wai Ming To is Professor of Management at the School of Business at the Macau Polytechnic Institute. He obtained his doctorate from Imperial College London and is an expert at the Ministry of Science and Technology of the People’s Republic of China.

Professor To is among the top scientists in the world, according to a list published by a research team at Stanford University (USA), of the 2% of the world’s most cited scientists in various disciplines.

“I was surprised to learn that I was among the top 2% of the best scientists in the world based on the impact of citations in 2019,” he replies. Macau Affairs. “However, it didn’t change my attitude towards research. I just want to collaborate with my fellow researchers to improve our understanding of how people feel, perceive and behave in organizations and different hotel environments and what the magnitude of the impacts we are having on environmental, social systems and economic.

One of his main research topics is the haze problem in Macau, Hong Kong and Shenzhen. “We have shown that the haze problems in these three cities follow a Kuznets Environmental Curve (EKC) – a hypothetical inverted U-shaped relationship between environmental change and the economic development of a city. For example, Macau’s foggy hours per year first increased from 3 hours in 1986 to a peak of 766 hours in 2007, and then improved as Macau’s economy continued to evolve (just 57 hours in 2016). In addition, my fellow researchers and I collected data on fishing in China and realized that China has done a great job in keeping marine and inland capture fisheries at a relatively low level over the past two decades. . Chinese fisheries are mainly based on aquaculture production. We will carefully analyze all these data (on haze and fisheries) and publish the results in international journals.

Wai Ming To also intends to explore a number of “interesting topics in Macau’s service industry with colleagues past and present.” Topics include consumer perceptions of retail ethics, the culinary landscape in restaurants, and the use of social media for work (especially in light of the Covid-19 pandemic) in Macau. “

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