Sat, Jul 07, 2007 - Page 12 News List

CPC unveils renewable energy plans

SOLAR ENERGY The state enterprise is considering investing in the construction of a polycrystalline silicon plant and is in talks with foreign firms for technology transfers


State-run CPC Corp, Taiwan (CPC, 台灣中油) said yesterday it would invest NT$460 million (US$14.02 million) to develop renewable energy sources over the next four years, including researching the feasibility of setting up a plant to produce polycrystalline silicon.

Local demand for polycrystalline silicon -- a vital material used in manufacturing solar cells and semiconductors -- is estimated to reach 5,000 tonnes this year and rise to 11,000 tonnes in 2010, CPC vice president Arthur Kung (孔祥雲) told reporters yesterday.

Banking on this rapid growth in demand, the nation's largest oil refiner is considering building a polycrystalline silicon plant by using electricity generated from liquefied natural gas (LNG) cold energy, Kung said.

Production of polycrystalline silicon is energy-consuming, but CPC can supply the electricity by utilizing LNG cold energy from its Yongan LNG Receiving Terminal in Kaohsiung, he said.

LNG is kept at a temperature of minus 165?C, but this cold energy is generally wasted when the LNG is extracted for utilization. The use of LNG cold energy can bring substantial energy savings, cutting power consumption by 40 percent to 50 percent for air liquefaction and separation, 30 percent to 40 percent for liquefied carbonic acid and dry ice production and about 50 percent for cryogenic warehouses, according to a study conducted by the Japan Gas Association.

The terminal will be capable of generating 180 million kilowatt hour per year from LNG cold energy, Kung said.

Construction of a polycrystalline silicon plant would entail an investment of NT$10 billion, Kung said.

While the proposed construction plan awaits approval by the legislature, CPC is in talks with foreign manufacturers of polycrystalline silicon, including Hemlock Semiconductor Corp, Tokuyama Corp and Rec Group on potential technology transfers, Kung said.

The company aims to start mass production in 2011 with a capacity of 3,000 tonnes per year, Kung said.

Other environmentally friendly measures to explore new energy sources outlined by CPC yesterday include promoting the use of biodiesel.

Starting on July 27, the company will provide fuel containing 1 percent biodiesel at 82 CPC gas stations in Taoyuan and Chiayi counties. Next year, all CPC gas stations will supply the so-called B1 biodiesel, which will be further replaced by B2 biodiesel -- fuel that contains 2 percent biodiesel -- in 2010, Kung said.

CPC will also provide ethanol fuel at eight gas stations in Taipei for use in government officials' vehicles. The gasoline supplier aims to provide E3 ethanol gasoline -- gasoline blended with 3 percent ethanol -- at all CPC gas stations by 2011, he said.

The company plans to work with Taiwan Fertilizer Co (台肥) or other interested companies to develop ethanol fuel produced from crop waste, Kung said.

Another renewable energy worth exploiting is hydrogen, the company said.

CPC has introduced the technology to convert natural gas to hydrogen, hoping to set up hydrogen stations for electric motor vehicles by 2013, Kung said.

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