Fri, Jan 04, 2019 - Page 12 News List

Shen urges wind energy firms to talk to public

RENEWABLES:The minister of economic affairs called on developers to improve communication to combat public perception that wind energy is expensive and unreliable

By Ted Chen  /  Staff reporter

Minister of Economic Affairs Shen Jong-chin (沈榮津) yesterday urged offshore wind energy companies to improve their communication with the public to dispel doubts about the renewable technology amid growing disappointment among some developers.

Six offshore wind projects developed by Orsted A/S, Hai Long Offshore Wind (海龍), a joint venture by Northland Power Inc and Yushan Energy Co (玉山能源), Copenhagen Infrastructure Partners and China Steel Corp (中鋼) missed Wednesday’s deadline to secure power purchase agreements at last year’s feed-in tariff (FIT) rate of NT$5.8498 per kilowatt-hour as a proposed cut to NT$5.106 for the next 20 year looms.

All stakeholders of offshore wind projects must help in combating the smear campaign against offshore wind energy waged by detractors of the renewable energy, Shen told reporters following a meeting with developers.

Critics have continued to paint offshore wind energy as expensive and unreliable, and claim that the government’s perceivably generous purchasing price would become a tremendous burden for Taiwan.

Orsted, which is working to add 900 megawatts to the power grid by 2021 through its projects in Changhua County, has announced that it would revisit its investment activities in Taiwan in the coming weeks.

The company needs to see a drastic change in the government’s offshore wind policies before further expansions in its Changhua County projects can proceed, Orsted chief executive officer Martin Neubert said.

“I understand that there are some hard feelings over the government’s decision and continued communication between all parties is the way forward,” Shen said, calling the meeting helpful.

The meeting came after a public hearing last month in which developers were told to submit further evidence supporting their case against an FIT rate cut.

Shen said that the meeting did not discuss revisions to the FIT rate, and other hot issues that could impact project financing and lenders’ confidence, such as the introduction of a yearly cap of 3,600 operating hours on power purchases as well as a tiered FIT scheme.

While an impasse between the central and Changhua County governments was seen as a major obstacle in the developers’ bid to gain establishment permits and finalize power purchasing prices, Shen said that administrative efficiency would be improved as misgivings are removed through communication.

During the meeting, Shen reiterated that offshore wind energy remains an important aspect of the central government’s drive toward energy diversification and renewables.

He said that developers were receptive to the message and would inform their head offices and shareholders.

Taiwan’s offshore wind sector is still in its infancy, Shen said, urging developers to remember the same difficulties they had faced when the first projects were installed in Europe more than two decades ago.

The county government has just witnessed a handover of power and the new administration under the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) needs time to settle in, he said.

He suggested that Copenhagen Infrastructure Partners screen some of its documentary films in Changhua County on how offshore wind projects had boosted economy in Denmark.

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