Tue, Dec 25, 2018 - Page 12 News List

Representatives of solar industry pan FIT cutback

By Ted Chen  /  Staff reporter

Bureau of Energy Director-General Lin Chuan-neng, right, looks on as protesters smash a mock-up photovoltaic module during a skit at a news conference held by solar energy representatives in Taipei yesterday.

Photo: CNA

Solar energy industry representatives yesterday railed against the government’s proposed plan to reduce the feed-in tariff (FIT) for renewable energy ahead of a public hearing on the issue today.

Their criticism centered around a report by the Taiwan Institute of Economic Research (TIER, 台灣經濟研究院) that was commissioned by the Ministry of Economic Affairs’ Bureau of Energy.

The report, which is part of the government’s rationale for the planned reduction, was flawed and would severely affect the viability of Taiwan’s solar industry, PV Generation System Association head Eric Kuo (郭宣甫) told a news conference.

Of more than 10,000 solar FIT applications filed annually, the TIER chose only several dozen as samples to support the government’s case, Kuo said.

The TIER also did not reveal its process for selecting the samples, he said, adding: “Such lack of transparency is troubling.”

Furthermore, the report primarily used receipts issued for construction and installation to verify the completion of each solar project, which has skewed the TIER’s findings on the volume and cost of ongoing projects, Kuo said.

In many cases, operators could obtain receipts only for completed phases of a project, causing many projects to appear incomplete due to difficulties faced in securing credit, he said.

“We have serious concerns about the report’s accuracy and its exorbitant commissioning price,” Kuo said, adding that apart from rent costs, the nation’s solar industry has also been under pressure from rapidly rising labor costs and steel prices.

The pressures have offset a decline in the price of photovoltaic modules caused by technological advancements over the past decades, he said.

The modules account for only 30 percent of a solar power plant’s total cost, while the prices of all other components have been rising, Kuo said.

The government’s proposal represents a reduction of 12.15 percent, which should instead be closer to the global average of 4.25 percent, Kuo said.

About 1,000 “green-collar” workers in the nation’s solar industry have lost their jobs, while 4,000 have had their work hours cut drastically, he said.

“The number of affected workers are expected to reach 20,000 in the second quarter of next year,” Kuo said.

The FIT reduction would affect small-scale projects first and discourage people from taking part in the renewable energy revolution, the representatives said.

Bureau of Energy Director-General Lin Chuan-neng (林全能), who heard the representatives’ complaints, said the government would from now on focus on physical evidence rather than receipts when analyzing ongoing projects.

The proposed reduction is not set in stone, and the government has pledged to continue communicating with industries to find a solution and ensure transparency, Lin said.

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