Fri, Nov 30, 2012 - Page 14 News List

Feed-in tariffs for solar power plants to be cut

BRIGHT PROSPECTS:An increased solar power capacity target would provide incentives for solar panels makers, creating jobs in other industries, an energy specialist said

By Helen Ku  /  Staff reporter

The government has cut the feed-in tariffs to be paid to generators of solar power next year because of the decreasing costs of manufacturing solar panel modules, the Bureau of Energy said on Wednesday.

The feed-in tariffs (FITs) are the wholesale prices that state-run utility Taiwan Power Co (Taipower, 台電) pays generators of solar power.

The bureau said the government would cut the tariffs by between 9.23 percent and 11.88 percent for solar power plants in different capacity categories in the first half of next year, after cuts of between 1.9 percent and 2.56 percent in the second half of this year.

However, the feed-in tariffs for hydropower energy will be increased by 5.79 percent to NT$2.47 per kilowatt-hour, while rates for energy from other renewable energy sources — wind, geothermal and waste materials — will be maintained, the bureau said.

ADJUSTMENTS

Under the latest adjustments, the new tariffs for the first half of next year will be NT$8.4 per kilowatt-hour for rooftop solar energy panel plants with a capacity below 10 kilowatts, NT$7.54 for between 10 kilowatts and 100 kilowatts, NT$7.12 for 100 kilowatts to 500 kilowatts, NT$6.33 for 500 kilowatts and above, and NT$5.98 for ground-based solar panel plants.

The current rates are NT$9.25 per kilowatt-hour for panel plants of up to 10 kilowatts, NT$8.33 for between 10 kilowatts and 100 kilowatts, NT$7.97 for 100 kilowatts to 500 kilowatts, NT$7.19 for 500 kilowatts and above and NT$6.76 for ground-based solar energy panel plants, the bureau’s figures show.

The new tariffs for the first half of next year are still higher than the average cost of NT$2.47 per kilowatt-hour generated by Taipower, Taiwan Cogeneration Corp (台汽電) and independent power producers (IPPs) using fossil fuels such as coal and oil, Tseng Tseng-tsai (曾增材), senior specialist at the bureau’s energy technology division, said at a press conference.

The government expects the production costs of solar energy panels to decline further in the near future, and the rates will be further lowered in the second half of next year to NT$8.18 per kilowatt-hour for rooftop solar power panel plants with an energy capacity below 10 kilowatts, NT$7.23 for those between 10 kilowatts and 100 kilowatts, NT6.9 for 100 kilowatts to 500 kilowatts, NT$5.98 for 500 kilowatts and above, and NT$5.62 for ground-based solar power panel plants, he said.

Meanwhile, the bureau has raised the nation’s solar power capacity target to 130 megawatts for next year, an increase of 30 percent from this year’s 100 megawatts, Tseng said.

INCENTIVES

He said the increase in the capacity target would provide incentives for solar panel and photovoltaic systems makers, creating job opportunities in other industries such as architecture, engineering and steel, and increasing the total solar panel production value from NT$11.6 billion (US$399 million) this year to NT$13.2 billion next year.

“We forecast renewable energy companies will make higher profits next year compared with this year and there will be more firms entering the market,” Tseng said, while expressing the hope that the nation’s photovoltaic exports would increase by 10 percent a year.

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