Thursday, August 28, 2003

【ES&T】Taiwan pledges funds for renewables

Taiwan’s Energy Commission pledged 16.8 billion Taiwan new dollars (U.S.$491 million) over the next 4 years to promote industries related to energy conservation and renewable energy. The announcement, made in July, prompted officials to predict that 10% of Taiwan’s installed capacity of power supply will come from renewable sources in 2010.
The Energy Commission’s announcement arrives on the heels of a pledge in January by the Taiwan government to develop about 6500 megawatts of energy from renewable sources by 2020. This ambitious goal, if achieved, would increase Taiwan’s installed capacity of power supply from renewable sources to about 12%—a significant jump from the current 4.1% of renewable energy.
However, Taiwan’s level of renewable energy sources would still be below that of other parts of the world. Last year, a global proposal to ensure that renewable energy accounts for up to 15% of the world’s energy supply by 2010 was brought up at the United Nations World Summit on Sustainable Development (WSSD) in Johannesburg, South Africa. Officials of Taiwan’s Energy Commission, however, said the global proposal presented at WSSD did not represent a consensus.
Even when 12% of power generation capacity comes from renewable energy, it will still only account for 5% of the total energy supply in Taiwan, according to the Energy Commission. Academics say the pledge to triple power generation capacity converted from renewable energy sources looks ambitious; however, the 5% goal is too humble compared with the former goal of 3% set by the government in 1998.
Yunn-ming Wang, deputy secretary general of Energy Commission, told ES&T that for countries with abundant sources of renewable energy, such as hydroelectric power, 15%, or even 20%, could be a reachable goal. “It’s not for Taiwan, which lacks…sources of renewable energy,” Wang said at Taiwan’s first Nuclear-Free Homeland Conference held on June 27.
Taiwan relies mainly on thermal power generation. In 2001, low-cost fuel, such as that derived from coal, contributed to 37.8% of the country’s gross power generation. Meanwhile, oil and gas accounted for 11.2% and 10.2%, respectively.
The target pertaining to the adoption of renewable energy is set in a draft proposed law, which was sent from the Cabinet (Executive Yuan) in August 2002 to the Legislative Yuan for its approval. Legislator Chin-lin Lai says that having 12% of power generation capacity converted from renewable energy could be an attainable goal “if related laws pertaining to policy reform and subsidy regulations would be passed soon by the Legislative Yuan.”
Energy-related laws under review in the legislature include regulations on compulsory purchases and guarantees of fixed prices for electricity converted from renewable energy sources, with prices varying depending on the source of renewable energy. The legislature also might discuss some of these laws in the next session, which begins in September. It’s unclear if any will be passed this year. —YU-TZU CHIU

ES&T, Policy News - August 28, 2003