Tue, Aug 10, 2004 - Page 10 News List

Renewable energy gains support

WIND POWER Both the government and private companies are investing in opportunities that green energy can provide to a country that is energy-poor


The government is accelerating efforts to develop renewable energy, mainly wind power, to guard against a sustained rise in fuel costs, government officials said yesterday.

Taiwan is an energy-dependent nation that imports 98 percent of its fuel each year.

As a result, skyrocketing prices for oil and coal have weighed on the state-run Taiwan Power Co (Taipower, 台電).

Taipower, the nation's sole power supplier, is now paying more than double what it paid for coal a year ago, while the possibility of an impending energy crisis appears to have prompted the government to accelerate efforts to develop homegrown energy sources.

"We hope that by 2010 renewable power will account for 10 percent of the nation's electrical capacity, up from 5.4 percent now," Wang Yunn-ming (王運銘), deputy director of the Bureau of Energy, said yesterday.

Wang said the Cabinet last month asked Taipower to raise its electricity purchase quota from 30,000 kilowatt per year to 600,000 kilowatt per year at a purchase price of NT$2 per kilowatt hour. The measure will mostly benefit wind-power developers, he added.

As a form of renewable and clean energy that has higher cost efficiency than other renewable power sources such as solar energy and hydraulic power, wind power has been chosen by Taipower, as well as various private companies, as a major energy source to exploit, Wang said.

"We estimate that wind power will make up 80 percent of our 10 percent renewable-energy capacity by 2010," Wang said.

Taipower has already set up four windmills in Penghu County that generate 2,400 kilowatts of electricity per year, and is establishing wind-power stations in Taipei County, Taoyuan County and Hsinchu County, which in total are expected to generate about 100,000 kilowatts of electricity per year, said Yu Sheng-hsiung (余勝雄), director of Taipower's department of power development.

Private companies have been showing high interest in exploiting the nation's rich wind-power resources. Last year, German power company Infra Vest Windpower Corp started to build the nation's largest wind-powered electricity plant in Chiayi County. Under the plan, the company will build 70 wind-turbine generators at the plant, which will be capable of generating 200 million kilowatts per year. The company is scheduled to launch the power plant next year. The company plans to build additional plants in Taoyuan and Changhwa.

One independent power company based in Hsinchu, called Hsin Feng (新豐), is also in the process of signing a deal with Taipower, Yu said. The company is constructing windmills in Hsinchu and Miaoli, which have the capacity to generate 124,300 kilowatts of electricity per year, Yu said.

Formosa Heavy Industries Corp (台塑重工), a unit of Formosa Plastics Group (台塑集團), which has wind-power systems in Yunlin County to supply power to its factories nearby, is seeking to build more facilities in order to be able to sell electricity to Taipower, said a company public relations official who requested anonymity.

Overall, there will be 200 wind turbines scattered along the west coast of Taiwan within five years, Yu said.

However, wind power still holds risks -- if there's no wind, there's no power.

Therefore, the government will still develop other renewable resources, such as hydraulic power, said Taipower Spokesman Lee Jiin-tyan (李錦田).

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