Wed, Oct 16, 2013 - Page 13 News List

Open wind turbine market to private sector, industry representatives urge

By Helen Ku  /  Staff reporter

Several academics and industry representatives yesterday called on the government to open the wind turbine market to the private sector, which would create jobs in Taiwan and help state-run Taiwan Power Co (Taipower, 台電) generate renewable energy more efficiently, but others said they doubt that wind power can replace nuclear power in the near future.

Taipower had set up a total of 450 wind turbines in Taiwan as of this month and aims to build 4,000 units by 2030, the Bureau of Energy said.

“The fact is that many local electronics manufacturers have skills in designing and producing wind turbines, so it should not be a problem to liberalize the market if most technological issues have been resolved,” motor maker Teco Electric and Machinery Co (東元) chairman Liu Chao-kai (劉兆凱) told a forum in Taipei.

Once the market is open, Taipower will be able to work with local firms to increase installation of wind turbines or to upgrade equipment more quickly, rather than spending time and resources looking for professional maintenance skills from foreign suppliers, Liu said.

Liu said that the government should also act more aggressively to implement energy policies, because clean energy currently accounts for only 0.1 percent of Taiwan’s total annual electricity consumption.

It is possible to create more than 200,000 jobs if the proportion of renewable energy increasese to 10 percent, he said.

Chung-Hua Institution for Economic Research chairman Liang Chi-yuan (梁啟源) said it would be difficult for Taiwan to phase out the use of nuclear power.

Even if Taiwan operates up to 4,000 wind turbines generating 2 megawatt of electricity, it still requires more than 6,070 hectares of land for the installation of wind turbines, equivalent to about 60 percent of Taipei, Liang said.

In addition, Taiwan’s geographic conditions remain the biggest challenge for the installation of wind turbines, and Taipower will continue to need to operate coal-powered plants and generate back-up electricity due to wind power’s unstable supply of electricity, he said.

Taiwan Institute of Economic Research (TIER, 台灣經濟研究院) president David Hong (洪德生) also said during the forum that nuclear power plants remain import to Taiwan in view of the nation’s high annual electricity consumption.

He also suggested Taipower to expand its smart grid, a digital net connecting households and indicating to electricity generators local electricity supply and demand, in the country to inform citizens how much of energy each has consumed.

In response, Jerry Ou (歐嘉瑞), head of the Bureau of Energy, said that Taipower had already built a smart grid that connects 20,000 households and now plans to expand the net to 100,000 households.

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