Wed, Jul 09, 2003 - Page 10 News List

Infra Vest GmbH joins with Taisugar to harness the wind

By Jessie Ho  /  STAFF REPORTER

German power company Infra Vest GmbH yesterday signed an agreement with state-run Taiwan Sugar Corp (Taisugar, 台糖) to build the largest wind-powered electric plant in Taiwan.

Under the agreement, Infra Vest will initially build up a wind-power station on Taisugar's Aoku Farm (螯鼓農場) in Chiayi County with a total investment of NT$4 billion.

"Were glad that our efforts to build the first wind-power plant in Taiwan finally pay off," Weilin Ma (馬維麟), general manager of Infra Vest Windpower Corp, told a press conference yesterday.

The company plans to build up 70 wind-turbine generators in the plant over the next three years, which has the capacity of generating 100 megawatts of power, or 200 million kilowatt-hours per year.

The power generated by Infra Vest is expected to account for 0.2 percent of total electricity generated in the nation each year, Ma said.

The electricity produced by Infra Vest will be sold to the state-run Taiwan Power Co (Taipower, 台電) for consumer use at NT$2 per kilowatt-hour, he added.

Taisugar has been looking forward to the partnership with Infra Vest, because the wind power project can help make use of the company's idle land, Taisugar chairman Wu Nai-jen (吳乃仁) said yesterday after the signing ceremony.

Wu didn't say when the power plant will begin to serve business.

Ma said the wind-power station should be ready in three years, adding that the German company gained permission to build windmills from the Ministry of Economic Affairs last month.

But the company still needs to receive final approval from the central government, as well as the passage of the statute on the development of renewable energy (再生能源發展條例), Ma said. The statute has been stalled in the Legislature since last September.

"I hope the construction can begin as soon as possible -- hopefully by the end of this year," Ma said. "We've worked on this project for three years."

Infra Vest came to Taiwan in 2000. The company proposed several wind-power projects to the government, but encountered a series of setbacks including land-obtainment, airspace security and ecological concerns, as well as competition from Taipower.

"I think Taiwan's government needs to hurry up and formulate proper supporting measures and regulations to cater to the needs of this novel industry," Ma added.

Acknowledging the government's inadequate policies in developing renewable energy, Wang Yunn-ming (王運銘), the ministry's deputy secretary general at the Energy Commission said that the commission has been working to solve various difficulties and will keep pushing for passage of related regulations in the Legislature.

The government's efforts in developing renewable energy may not be enough for foreign investors.

"There are too many issues that need to be discussed and sorted out before Taiwan can fully develop renewable energy," said Andreas Gursch, deputy chairman of the joint environmental protection committee of the European and American Chambers of Commerce in Taipei.

One issue is the comparatively sparse renewable power to be exploited, Gursch said.

Under the government's current plan, only 3 percent of the nation's energy will be generated by various renewable powers, such as terrestrial-heat power and water power by 2020.

This amount is simply too low and can hardly trigger interests among foreign investors, Gursch said.

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